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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Monday, 11 August 2014

At last I have seen the light about the London Beam

Late last night, back from a brief holiday in the beautiful south of France, I stuck my head out of the back door in the hope of catching a glimpse of the much-trumpeted 'super-moon'.

I saw that large pale disk ascending over Canary Wharf, pretty much my eastern horizon, but what caught my eye first and much more firmly was a very bright,  dead straight line, a veritable edge or column of light, poking up from somewhere near Vauxhall Bridge to a massive but indeterminate height. A huge beam of light, bigger than any I had ever seen (and there have been plenty over the last few years).

I immediately jumped to some prejudiced conclusions.

As it appeared to originate in the Nine Elms area, close to the ghastly killer tower, "The Plunger" as it is known in Pimilico - I imagined it was just another publicity stunt by the Nine Elms Disease gang. In fact I thought they had stolen the New York twin towers 12th anniversary memorial idea (the twin beams of light) and were using it to celebrate some new victory over the GLA or Lambeth planning authorities.

I'm referring to the property developers who are spreading steel and glass boxes across the old Battersea Marshes like there's no tomorrow. I read somewhere they'd gained permission to build yet another huge tower, this one to be in Bondway,Vauxhall - known, until very recently, as the location of a big hostel for the homeless.

So, I turned my back on this astonishing beam. And today, just a few hours ago,  I read it was a work of art.

I quickly discover (thanks to these amazing photos on the Brixton Buzz website, plus reports on the Guardian and  Daily Telegraph websites ) that it is an artwork commissioned by the Mayor of London and Artangel. It was  called Spectra - a piece of art by the Japanese sound and light artist Ryoji Ikeda, to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. It was a cluster of  49 searchlights in Victoria Tower Gardens by the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. I should have realised immediately - this was real light and the usual stuttering green laser beam.

So - while I thought it was a self-promoting stunt by a property developer, I hated it. Now I know it was a great public work of art for a world-shaking centenary, I am outed as the great hypocrite I always knew I was.

So, I failed to get photos of either the super-moon or the super beam.

What an arsehole!

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