For two weeks, between January and February 2006, one of Bristol’s former landmark buildings, Tollgate House, was turned into a giant canvas and project space by Blackout Arts. Commissioned by The Bristol Alliance, the project creatively re-used the condemned building and the adjacent multi-storey car park for two public events and two super-scale audio-visual installations during the demolition works, which were to make way for the new Cabot Circus development.
"The project engaged with local people, passers-by and the curious in a way that spurred the imagination. Nothing was too obvious, nothing too subtle, and everything glowed a special warmth that touched the public. ‘intimate~INTIMATE’ was close and bold, resonating across the city long after the building's demise."
‘Intimate ~ INTIMATE’ incorporated two week long installations. ‘It Is All Around Us’ was created by Roderick K Machlachlan and ‘I Dream A Tower’ was created by Jem Noble, both in conjunction with Chiz Williams – the three partners comprising Blackout Arts.
The idea was to make striking and provocative moving images that would transform the appearance of the building, pay homage to masters of ‘light’ and ‘dark’ while reflect on the nature of development, destruction, re-birth and energy. The exhibition used video projectors to cast giant images on three sides of the 18-floor tower block which had been completely covered in scaffolding wrap. For two weeks the exhibits completely altered the surrounding area and the city’s night-time landscape, presenting a dynamic vista to audiences across Bristol. ‘The reach and power of the project was enhanced by its own dedicated FM radio station, Tollgate Transmissions, which delivered synchronised soundtracks to the video content of each installation.
By day, the facility was used across the duration of the project for a live sound installation, broadcasting in real-time the sounds of demolition work gradually reducing Tollgate House to rubble. This piece was created by Jem Noble as part of his ‘Displace’ series of sound works.
Each of the two-week long audio-visual installations was preceded by a launch event on the roof of the adjacent multi-storey car park. Events comprised live, integrated audio-visual performances, specially commissioned short films and car park installations, all involving projection of images on to the giant canvas of Tollgate House. Works included ‘scratch’ animations by pupils from two neighbouring schools in conjunction with Kari Nygaard, live performances by Vi and Flicker, and a film by Joe Magee, as well as a giant slide show incorporating images of the tower taken by the public, managed and edited by photographer Adam Faraday.