London Theatres in Lockdown

.A project documenting London’s theatres and picture houses during the Covid19 lockdown. Below is a selection from more than 70 theatres and 30 cinemas.
This page displays images at 600px wide. Click any image for a slightly larger view.
The originals are 5000+px
Contact info and profile are below.

Theatres

Trafalgar Studios during lockdown

Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall

Her Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket during lockdown

Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket

Shaftesbury Ave / Sondheim Theatre during lockdown

Sondheim Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden during lockdown

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

The Palace Theatre during lockdown

The Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus

The Old Vicin lockdown

The Old Vic, The Cut

Cambridge Theatre London during lockdown

Cambridge Theatre, Seven Dials

Royal Court Theatre during lockdown

Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square

Theatre Royal, Haymarket during lockdown

Theatre Royal, Haymarket

The Prince Edward Theatre during lockdown

The Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton St.

Southwark Playhouse during lockdown

Southwark Playhouse, Newington Causeway

BAC during lockdown

Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill

Theatre Royal, Stratford East during lockdown

Theatre Royal, Stratford East

Young Vic Theatre during lockdown

The Young Vic, The Cut

Coronet Theatre under Covid19 lockdown

Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate

The Vaults, Waterloo during lockdown

The Vaults, Waterloo

Sadlers Wells Theatre during lockdown

Sadlers Wells Theatre, Roseberry Av

Boulevard Theatre duting lockdown

The Boulevard Theatre, Soho. A completely new venue that was forced to close after only 3 months

Cinemas

Curzon Cinema, Soho during lockdown

The Soho Curzon, Shaftesbury Ave

Leicester Square Odeon during Covid19 lockdown

Leicester Square Odeon

Electric Cinema during lockdown

Electric Cinema, Portobello Road

Odeon Camden Cinema, Parkway during lockdown

Camden Odeon, Parkway

Tottenham Court road Odeon Cinema during lockdown

Odeon Cinema, Tottenham Court road

Hampstead Everyman cinema during lockdown

Hampstead Everyman, Holly Bush Vale

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About this project

I’m a media artist who’s dabbled in many areas – a long time ago I invented projection mapping. My big thing is light.
Mid March 2020 and I was finishing a major show at the OXO Tower, and feeling nervous about what may lie ahead. The news told us a plague was coming – a real full-bloodied plague!
My show finished, the day after I got Covid symptoms, and two days later was the lockdown.
A horrible month later I felt wobbly, but fit enough to get on a bike. I cycled into central London.
Standing virtually alone on Waterloo Bridge with no traffic on the road, no boats on the river and no planes above was… breathtaking. The solitude was at once bizarre, unsettling, and gorgeously beautiful.
From the bridge I could see the National Theatre. I had worked there – an important chunk of my life. It now sat empty, deserted, forlorn.
Zig-zagging down an empty Strand I revelled in the quiet and safety of empty roads. There were a couple of optimistic taxis and a security guard out for a smoke, while completely empty buses patrolled the streets. Most of the homeless had been temporarily packed away, though as always a few poor souls had slipped through the net. The police kept an eye on it all.
Soho was vacant. It was like someone had pulled the plug during the night, while everyone was cosily tucked up in bed, and in the morning the sun rose on this surreal frozen landscape.
Hundreds of lanterns continued to celebrate the Chinese new year (and would keep doing so for months). Cinemas promoted A Silent Place II and Parasite as if they were set-dressing from a disaster movie offering a sly commentary, while theatres boldly advertised shows put to bed weeks before. I had sat in the dark in most of these venues swept away by their distractions, and had worked in many of them too. A show, a theatre, an audience are living things in intimate collusion. Together they breath life. The sum of the parts etc. The notion occured to me that I had stepped into some outlandish and fantastically huge wake, and was there paying my respects to these glorious but sad remains. Everybody would get to do this, one by one. Today it was my turn.
The streets would of course fill with people again. Normality would one day return. But would all these shows? It was obvious some wouldn’t. Would even the theatres themselves survive..? Some had already been on a financial knife edge.
I needed to return and document this. Lone photographers were taking their post-apocalypse snaps, but was anyone recording the theatres and cinemas?
Back home I made a list. Using Google Earth I got the best time to catch the light, and mapped out several day-long routes hopping from one venue to the next. So: 7.30am The Donmar; 8am The Royal Opera House; 8.30am Trafalgar Studios; and so on. This was going to take me a while – I had more than a hundred to cover!
Over the next few weeks I would spend a day cycling across town taking photos, followed by several days of post-Covid exhaustion (I’m in that scary ‘long haul’ category).
It was certainly a mixed bag. Some of the venues were impossible to get to (like the Barbican Theatre buried inside the Barbican Centre), some were just plain dull, but many were visually stunning, especially the huge Victorian edifices like Her Majesty’s Theatre on The Haymarket. Doing the ‘post’ on these has been a real pleasure.

I’ll be updating this.

 

Contact

Right now I’m scouting opportunities for publication.
A magazine feature would be ideal.
Single prints are available.
Get in touch.
p.s. Please don’t share this page on social media. Cheers!

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IKARUS

.As part of the huge Mars and Beyond event at Bargehouse, OXO Tower on the South Bank, I was invited to create IKARUS, a installation/imagining of a craft of the future that carried its passsengers to distant worlds powered by a shared dream of stars.
.This used immersive stereoscopic technology (The Disinhibitor) I had developed for an earlier installation Memories Can’t Wait in 2015. Wearing a pair of 3D glasses, visitors entered a space filled with 3D projections that would create the illusion of entering an alien and fantastical space in which they appeared to float amongst infinite moving stars.
.The show ran from 20 February to 15 March 2020.

IKARIE logo 1DisinhibitorIKARUS SUNChildIts full of starstwo ladies in space3D AlienBargehouse PlanTina 3

 

..Here’s a short video giving a taster of IKARUS
IKARUS happy visitor

 

The Tree That Blinked at Light.Move.Fest

.In 2019 The Tree That Blinked was selected for Light.Move.Fest in Łódź, Poland – a festival that annually draws 800,000 people! It was a big success.

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A couple contemplate The Tree That Blinked during setup the day before the opening.
Click any image for an expanded view.

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Click any image for an expanded view.

 

Here’s a video of The Tree That Blinked in Singapore (2 mins)
Jonathan Ross 286 Poster 2

And a video (4 mins) of the first presentation at Gallery 286, London
with audience reactions.
TTTB screen shot sml

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Platform

A Stereo 3D filmed installation running in a continuous loop of 8 hours.

CLIP0000249_002 (7.17.37.13)Click any image for an expanded view.

Platform is being created using a high-speed camera and later modified to create full stereoscopic 3D – a technique I have been developing for several years. It stretches time, and adds a third dimension, transforming an everyday setting into a mysterious world of living 3D statues, and revealing a hidden beauty inaccessible to those present at the time.

Each section has its own content and tone depending on who is present on that day or evening. A hot summers’ day will yield something very different from Halloween. Choice of lens and exposure also add a ‘look’. The process is a little random (which is challenging and fun) and requires some skill and vision to mould into a finished piece.

Platform begins at Edgware Road tube station, and takes 8 hours to follow the Circle Line around back to Edgware Road again. This journey normally takes 40 minutes. The piece is edited to form a continuous loop.

To me Platform suggests both an apalling transience to our lives whilst paradoxically hinting at something more enduring.

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Here in Stereoscopic 3D.
Click any image for an expanded view.

 

Using this technique, a 10 minute segment, Platform 6, was shot on Halloween 2017. Meant only as a test, it has since taken on a life its own, winning Best 3D at the New Media Film Festival, LA!

Amother segment, Notting Hill, is in competition at SD&A, San Fransisco, January 2020.

Platform 6 and Notting Hill are available for screenings, and need 3D projection and glasses.
Some info and stills – here

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Platform 6

Platform ProRes Dec17 5 widescreen 3 (0.01.59.06)

Platform 6 was shot over one evening on the North London Line.

Platform 6 is part of a larger filmed installation, Platform, a endless loop of 8 hours. This segment was shot on Halloween and meant only as a test, but has since taken on a life its own, such as winning Best 3D at the New Media Film Festival in LA.

Platform is created using a high-speed camera modified to create full stereo 3D – a technique I have been developing for several years. The process stretches time, and adds a third dimension, transforming an everyday setting into a mysterious world of living 3D statues, and revealing hidden beauties inaccessible to those present at the time.

Each part is different in content and tone depending on what is happening on that day or evening. A hot summers’ day will yield something very different from Halloween. Choice of lens and exposure also add a ‘look’. The process is a little random (which is challenging and fun) and requires some skill and vision to mould into finished pieces later.

To me the Platform suggests both an apalling transience to our lives whilst paradoxically hinting at something more enduring.

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Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.50.00 (0.00.00.00)Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.40.43 (0.00.28.04)Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.52.44 (0.00.00.00)Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.51.55 (0.00.31.17)

Here in Stereo 3D. Click to view images in a larger window.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 09.30.47'Platform 6' - Karel Bata'Platform 6' - Karel Bata

Platform 6 was created over the evening of Halloween 2017.
It has been screened at:

The London Sci-Fi Film Festival
EXP Gallery, Hackney, London
Art in Flux, Ugly Duck Gallery, London
LA 3-D Film Festival, LA
SD&A, San Francisco
New Media Film Festival, LA (winner, Best 3D)
EVENT TWO, Royal College of Art, London
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
More to come…

New Media Film Festival 2019 Laurels

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‘Lamentation’ at The House of St. Barnabus

Elizabeth Still 2 copy 2

Lamentation is a arts installation going into the chapel at House of St. Barnabus in spring 2019. Dates to be confirmed. Mailing list link below

Wearing bespoke 3D glasses, guests will enter a virtual environment in which they appear to walk through a magical field of moving stars. Their movements are tracked on-the-fly to create music built from choral phrases in Thomas Tallis’ 16th-century Lamentation.

Preview video here: https://vimeo.com/255248718 (1 minute)

The installation is the latest iteration of The Disinhibitor which was first developed in 2012 by Karel Bata as part of his MA research into perceptual spaces at Ravensbourne College.

The Disinhibitor
Click for larger view

The Disinhibitor is a series of site-specific installations which adapt and evolve around the opportunities offered by their locations.
In St. Barnabus’ Chapel I felt strong spiritual resonances (maybe my Catholic upbringing at work) and wanted to explore this using Tallis’ deeply reverential music. This is generated on-the-fly by a visitor’s movements, which also modulates the visuals. Guests will feel they are in an environment they themselves are creating. Which indeed they are. I’m very excited by this.”

Tickets will be free, but of limited availability. They will go fast!
Click here to be certain of getting one.

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note: your details will NOT be shared with any third parties.

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ARTiculAction magazine interview

Interview with Karel Bata in ARTiculAction magazine.
Click on image to open in fresh window.

.Karel Bata - ARTiculAction.

The Tree That Blinked at Singapore Night Festival

The Tree That Blinked - LayszaSingapore Night Festival audience
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This is quite mystical. In some parts of Asia, we believe there are spirits which reside in trees. Here, the British artist Karel Bata marries the persona of the tree with the portraits of people who had inspired him. Look closely at the details as the projections are set against the tree… then watch as it blinks and morphs into another face. Ingenious.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – –– David Sucha, Life’s Tiny Miracles

The one that did catch my attention was The Tree that Blinked. This ghostly display uses spotlights to form a person’s face on a large Banyan Tree, which then blink and change every now and then. …the face literally pops out at you the moment you shift into the correct viewing spot. I found this to be very, very smart.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – –The Scribbling Geek

My favourite of the whole festival however was The Tree That Blinked. It was amazing in so many ways, but the symbolism behind it was subjective which meant different meanings could come from this animated projection.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – Kara Bertoncini, The AU Review

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In 2017 Singapore Night Festival celebrated their 10th anniversary with 600,000 visitors. They had seen my earlier work and asked me to create something around their century-old Banyan tree to celebrate its antiquity. I was happy to oblige with my installation The Tree That Blinked.

It is a series of digitally manipulated portraits projected into an old Banyan tree in which I trigger and explore the mystery and myths that form such a large part of our perception of woodlands. The work moves and shifts as the leaves are blown in the wind, so facial expressions seem to change too and the faces appear to undergo transformations of age and identity. Blended with real movements in the faces, and subtle morphs from face to face, this provides a compelling illuison of something alive within the tree, of spirits within.

This was first shown in embryonic form at Gallery 286 in London. At the time viewers referenced childhood stories or experiences of mysterious forests and strange creatures, and even ideas of layered consciousness. Some saw the tree as benign. I have taken these comments on board, and the piece has grown with these ideas.

Click for video (2 mins)

Jonathan Ross 286 Poster 2

Some stills (Click any image to see a larger version)

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The audience loved it!
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A video (4 mins) of The Tree That Blinked first presentation at Gallery 286
with audience reactions.
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The Disinhibitor (Memories Can’t Wait)

Memories Can't Wait, preview
Click to enlarge

Using The Disinhibitor, an apparatus I invented as part my MA research into Stereo 3D
at Ravensbourne College, Memories Can’t Wait is a truly immersive installation – a lucid
out-of-body experience that playfully challenges our notions of the space we inhabit.

Wearing custom 3D glasses, visitors are led into a large dark room where a simple, but carefully thought-out arrangement of lasers and projectors, working with a multi-channel soundscape, create a virtual environment in which they appear to float between moving planes of stars that stretch out to infinity.

Memories dance 820 video

Video (2 minutes)

Video (1 minute) with a different selection of shots.

A taste of the audience’s reaction – which often starts as excitement, followed
by a more meditative period – can be heard here: Video (1 minute)

This proved very popular and was staged several times at Ravensbourne, each time
with the settings tweaked to create a different immersive experience:

Memories Can't wait
10. Memories Can't Wait
17. 'A captivated visitor' 2
10. Memories Can't Wait
16. The 'Tunnel'
. . Click any image to enlarge.

If you have 3D glasses handy you can get a hint of the effect with some of the
images – click to enlarge, and try tilting your head.
But it’s only a hint…

13. Memories Can't Wait
14. The floor
16. The 'Tunnel'
Karel Bata - Immersive Environments
Visitors to Memories Can't Wait
17. 'A captivated visitor' 2
Click any image to enlarge
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Shoreditch Digital
The Disinhibitor has been staged several times since. It became The nDimensional Basement at Shoreditch Digital Festival 2015. This was a much smaller space, creating a more intimate environment. Without a doubt it was the most popular exhibit there.

Memories Shoreditch lone girl Memories Shoreditch Man hand
Memories Shoreditch Viral + 2
Memories Shoreditch 2 girls

– Click any image to enlarge –

The Disinhibitor was seen again at Lumen Gallery’s ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ in London on December 7 2015.


Lamentation
House of St. Barnabus, 2018.

Lamentation uses The Disinhibitor linked to a motion detection system and custom software that interprets participants’ movements translating them into music created live from the harmonies in Thomas Tallis’ 16th Century choral composition Lamentation. The aim is to create an experience that is becalming , yet rich in sensory texture and spritual resonances. Something completely other-worldly.

Lamentation at House of St. Barnabus


Ikarie XB 2

Feb – March 2020, The Bargehouse, South Bank, London

Taking it’s inspiration from the classic Sci-fi movies Ikarie XB 1 (1963) and 2001 (1968), Ikarie XB 2 is a major part of Recyclisism’s and Sci-Fi London’s Mars and Beyond immersive art show using The Disinhibitor to create a walk-in 3D experience that imagines a fantasy spaceship where colonists travel to Alpha Centauri in a shared dream full of stars.

Watch this space! (sorry for the pun)

Layout 1 F copy
– – – – – — – – – – Click image to enlarge .
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Note to arts curators:
Though The Disinhibitor requires some very specific components, a few of which may need to be hired in, in the right environment it is quick to set up – less than a day.
For best effect it needs a large totally blacked out room with a plain gray floor. Obviously few places are exactly like that. The video shows it done in a TV studio with black drapes. At other venues I have laid down gray linoleum.
There are five principal modes of viewing gained by a choice of two types of 3D glasses (more in the pipeline!) and the two sources of projection – the lasers and the stars, which can be selected individually or combined. Some spaces incline more to one effect than others.
The effect of floating in space diminishes as the number of people in the room increases – they, and their shadows, block the view of the projections on the floor. So the fewer the better. In a large room six is optimal.
Some folks – about 1% – hate it and get vertigo immediately. Well, you can’t please everyone…
This all takes place in a darkened space with lasers (though low-powered and safe) so there needs to be a responsible person in the room. I like to take advantage of this by having an ‘usher’ that leads people in and gives the event a theatrical edge.
I would love to stage this in a really huge dark space…

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Platform 1

 

Platform 1

Platform 1, Hackney 2017

An installation of projected stereoscopic ‘living statues’.

At the core of Platform 1 is a series of Stereo 3D ‘living statues’ of rail passengers captured with a high-speed camera and frozen mid-gesture as we move past them.
This is then processed later to create a Stereo 3D image. It is part of a larger filmed installation, Platform, that runs for 8 hours. More information – here

Platform 1 is an istallation that evolves with the physical particularities of the venue it is in. The piece uses a large Stereo 3D screen made from non-standard projection material (such as a builder’s sheet!) giving a sense of the piece organically sited in its setting. It is presented using an innovative system using two 4k projectors that give an unusually bright 3D image.

Platform 1 is suited to a large space, but is very adaptable, and can be presented more simply, or in a smaller space, using a conventional 3D TV screen.

Platform 1 was first presented at EXP Hackney, London, November 2017.
It was shown again during Art in Flux at Ugly Duck Studios, June 2018.