Thursday, 11 March 2010

Examining the site - The camera arm probe

As I had been repeatedly unsuccessful at gaining access to my site I decided to build a contraption that would allow me to record the interior of No. 2 Elder street. As I had no way of getting into the site on ground level, I decided to design a camera arm that would allow me to penetrate the site and record the viewing experience.

The result was a 6.5m camera arm made simply from a small tripod with camera, some timber, gaffer tape, string and nails.

The arm's length came from three 2.5 metre timber batons nailed and strapped together with gaffer tape to be as light as possible. We wanted joints that were both very strong and an efficient use of material.

Above is a film I made on my phone of the camera arm being lifted and positioned through the left window of No.2 Elder Street.

It proved very successful and was able to enter the obstructed spaces and be manoeuvred through them. This gave me a new understanding of the transition between the elevation of the building and the unknown aspects of the interior space. It also showed viewpoints into the spaces that I had not encountered before.

The films from the camera arm probe:

Examining the building 01

This film shows our first attempt at recording the interior of No.2. It's taken through the left hand window on the first floor and viewing down into the derelict building. It shows that all the floors have collapsed just leving the building as a shell.

Examining the building 02

Taken through the right hand window it shows a 360 degree rotation of the camera with a view back out of the building to Elder street. It then moves to a film the alleyway between No.2 and No. 161.

The film also briefly captures a view of the front door and window of the ground floor of No.2 which I had seen before from a different angle in a previous video:
Revealing the obscured 02

Examining the building 03

Starting with a shot showing the full length of the alleyway from a first floor level, the film then moves along and into the right hand window of No.2. We can then see an almost eye level view of the first floor front room and a view into the backroom. There also seems to be a bricked up window that overlooked the alleyway from No.2.

Examining the building 05

My last video shows footage taken when the camera arm is fully extended vertically and moves horizontally towards the end of Elder Street from No.6 to No.4 to No.2 to the Alleyway. It then zooms in and moves back towards No.2 and has a short capturing a layered view showing the street elevation, through into the front room, into the back room and out a rear window into the space behind the building.


Retrieving this primary research was invaluable. The inside of the building is mainly intact and there are even shelves and mirrors still attached to the walls. The space is almost like a museum piece showing the decay of its life. I see connections to Dennis Severs' House and the Soane museum (both mentioned in earlier blog entries) even more than before. It is a time-capsule-like space.

I want to keep this space as it is and make it a voyeuristic experience to be sensitively viewed by the public. There is something I really like about only being able to view the building from the outside. It could almost become a house sized 'cabinet of curiosity'.

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