Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Tune into architecture: LoneLady's The Utilitarian Poetic/Manchester's Modernist Heroines walking tour to be repeated

As Love Architecture festival celebrates buildings great and good, one installation is reminding us of an equally important part of the built environment which tends to attract less excitement – the infrastructure all around us, that gets us from A to B.

The Utilitarian Poetic makes a new song by Warp Records' LoneLady, resident in one of the nearby housing blocks that is surrounded physically and aurally by the the hum of the car, available to anyone who plugs their headphones into a temporary socket cemented into a slip road where the Mancunian Way curves down towards the ground. The work inhabits a barren, leftover landscape – battered flowers and trees grow out of an undulating floor of rocks, discarded sweet wrappers and broken glass – where one isn't inclined to stop. It's demarcated only by a lavender graffiti tag, one among several impermanent scrawls. The song, 'Good Morning, Midnight', loops metallic percussion, distant echoes and fade-outs over bassy undertones, constantly on the move; even its rhythmic bleeping could be there to guide you across the next road. The hiss of the traffic continues in the background, audible over the headphones, as cars charge past, cyclists puff and pedestrians scurry home.

As I stand, a lone listener plugged into a wall for five minutes, no-one stops to ask me what I'm doing, or comes to have to go. They're all plugged into thoughts and sounds of their own. But it made me think: if our roads are part of the physical, utilitarian infrastructure, then music and dancing are part of a cultural infrastructure that's no less necessary; an unofficial, after hours route to escape where dreams are dreamed, connections are made, friendships are forged and networks come and go.

A pamphlet on The Utilitarian Poetic, including a location map, can be purchased for £1 from Manchester Modernist Society's pop-up shop in the Royal Exchange until Sunday June 24, 1pm-8.30pm. The installation runs for the same period (or as long as the life of the battery!).


In other news, the Manchester's Modernist Heroines walking tour, an outcome of a joint project between the Shrieking Violet, Manchester Modernist Society and the Loiterers Resistance Movement, will be repeated on Thursday June 21 as part of the Love Architecture festival.

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