Behind the curtain

In the course of just over half an hour, Design Week has been circled by an 18-metre tall naked man; surrounded by enormous disembodied hands playing a huge piano and trapped in an apocalyptic rainforest storm.

We’ve been awed, dwarfed, terrified and finally spat out onto the Camden streets, where the hoards of wierdos and tourists suddenly seem unusually pedestrian.

Today saw the unveiling of Curtain Call, the new installation at London’s Roundhouse from designer, architect and artist Ron Arad.

concept image
concept image

Arad has created a 360-degree circular interactive curtain, made from seven tones of silicon tubing – amounting to 50 kilometres in length – suspended on a steel rig. The curtain forms a shimmering screen onto which high-definition animations are screened, with different artists taking it in turn to have their work broadcast across the vast, mesmerizing platform. It will also host performances, screenings and other events.

Curtain Call
Curtain Call

The noise accompanying the pieces is played at deafening volume, utterly immersing the viewers in this breathtaking sculpture. We enter the room enveloped by the piece from Greenaway & Greenaway, which uses the silicon curtain as an abstract mirror, projecting the architecture of the Roundhouse itself back onto the curtain in a whirl of pillars and Space Mountain-style twists and turns.

Cutting an eccentric figure in hat, crocs and combats, Arad spoke about the work at The Roundhouse this afternoon, and its clear he’s as impressed as the viewers are with the incredible piece.

In an interview with Jay Merrick, Arad says, ‘You’ve noticed that the Roundhouse is round. It’s the first thing you notice. You should definitely take advantage of the fact that it has no direction.’

Sordid Earth by Mat Colishaw
outside the curtain

Blitz Communications has worked on the audio-visual elements of the installation, and staff from the group will also be on hand to monitor the 12 computers and screens, which are placed in a Star Trek-style cluster outside the main curtain and ring of columns.

Artist Mat Collishaw’s work is the beautiful yet terrifying Sordid Earth-  a Day of the Triffids-style affair where rainforest flowers bloom, wilt, rot and die before a backdrop of crashing lightening, cascading waterfalls and enormous humming insects.

Sordid Earth by Mat Colishaw
Sordid Earth by Mat Colishaw

David Shrigley’s piece, however, is a hilarious disgruntled animated man, wearing nothing but enormous, thunderous boots and he sighs and flops his way around the audience.

Sordid Earth by Mat Colishaw
Walker by David Shrigley

Other artists involved include Joe Hardy, who won the IdeasTap competition to find a digital artist for the installation, Hussein Chalayan, Javier Mariscal, and Babis Alexiadis.

Ron Arad

Source: J Birch

Ron Arad

Arad says, ‘my idea was that it had to be, like, really exciting and really easy to experience – an easy spectacle.’ Undoubtedly, he’s succeeded.

Curtain Call  runs from 9 – 29 August at The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1

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