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January 30, 2007

Night Haunts


The Nature of the Urban Night

Night Haunts is a collaboration between writer Sukhdev Sandhu, website designer Ian Budden and sound artist and musician Scanner. Night Haunts unfolds in monthly episodes through 2006 on this specially designed site.

In this contemporary nocturnal journal, Sandhu prospects in the London night with the people who drive its pulse from night cleaners to praying nuns, security guards to the Samaritans. In each episode, Sandhu reflects on the nature of the urban night. Has night life been corroded by light and entertainment? What are the invisible forces that pulse through the sleeping city? Is real darkness possible any more?

Sandhu's first piece, Whatever Happened to the London Night? introduces his endeavours against the backdrop of past investigations of the nocturnal metropolis, particularly HV Morton's The Nights of London, published in 1926.

In his February episode, Avian Police, Sandhu recounts the experience of flying above the city in a police helicopter 'equipped with night-vision cameras that can pick out shirt labels from over 2000 feet'. In March, he tracks the solitary working lives of night cleaners traversing the city's empty streets and offices. In future episodes he will be wading through the eternal darkness of London's Victorian sewers, dodging officialdom with pirate radio DJs, and praying for the soul of London with the Nuns of Tyburn.

The Night Haunts website is described by designer Ian Budden as "a virtual landscape that reflects the physicality of Sandhu's experiences. The site involves a method of programming which we call 'techtonic animation', using a greatly enlarged version of the pixel, the fundamental building block of internet technology." The visual and sonic textures are in constant flux, randomly triggered so that each experience of the site is unique. You will never see or hear it the same way twice.

Posted by jo at January 30, 2007 03:09 PM