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Tapescape Catford: Intervention I

March-April 2012
Tapescape Catford: Intervention I

Jon Pigram

An intervention in an old Blockbuster Video, closed after being looted during the London 2011 riots, exploring the politics of the videocassette and its impact on the functioning of society, the environment and consumer behaviour.

Video Player 1970s

Tapescape Catford | Intervention I took place over a three week period in March 2012, seeking to understand how the rise of the video player from the late 1970s began to change the way our society functioned.


There was no attempt to formally curate the space in advance, artists were challenged to take command of their work, exposing them slightly. Somewhat unnerved by the free reign allowed the intervention mutated in ways no one could have predicted and drew in local people, young and old, of all backgrounds to enquire of the odd goings on taking place in their old video store. The conversations grew and interest in all aspects of videocassette began from the tape itself to how it changed the way moving image is perceived. A one day symposium was convened by Goldsmiths, University of London and a number of articles on the intervention can be found under the tag Tapescape Catford.

Installations, Performances and Talks

Using art installations, soundscapes, spoken word, discussions, talks, screenings, and dance, Tapescape Catford | The Intervention I took over a disused Blockbuster video store, ransacked during the 2011 London riots. The intervention questioned the impact video has made on all our lives, how it affected our behaviour and the huge environmental cost of our short lived innovations. There was a ‘Video Amnesty’ allowing London borough of Lewisham residents to donate old videocassettes and see them returned to the shelves before being sent away to be fully recycled and re-emerge as something new. The amnesty resulted in more than 2,000 videocassettes being returned (over 1 tonne) and Lewisham council rolling out videocassette recycling to all 265,000 borough households for the first time.

Selection of Live Events

Sculpture Live
FRIDAY 20th from 9pm Riot Act 2012 Night: Sculpture Presents An incautious amalgam of mutant electronic forms, mechanical and digital animation techniques, computer sequencing and analogue tape edits, the avant-garde and looney tunes. Dan Hayhurst plays digital media devices, reel to reel tape recorder, sampler, effectron and walkman. Reuben Sutherland plays video zoetrope record deck. Psychophonotropic picture discs printed with intricate visual patterns animate when videoed, beaming looping fragments of surreal, luridly coloured imagery into eyeballs and brains at 25 frames per second – Victorian mechanical imaging technology combined with digital video. Sculpture’s second zoetropic … [cont reading on blog]

Demonstrate being Affected by 14-15-77 Blockbuster Catford Part of Tapescape Catford: The Intervention II ‘Demonstrate being Affected’ has 8352 pictures taken every 20 seconds for 3 days on a train from Lhasa in Tibet to Beijing. The sky train we travelled on is one of the highest in the world at 5,072m above sea level. The still pictures have been edited together to make a stop motion animation and a sound track was composed from chanting monks recorded in the Tashilumpo monastery (2nd largest in Tibet) mixed with the transfixing train beat. The installation of the above content is shown over 9 screens, 5 of which work perfectly, 1 slightly and 3 not at all. The installation over the … [cont reading on blog]

In response to the Deluge artwork, at Tapescape Catford: The Intervention I, by artist Paul Halliday, sociologist Francisco Calafate Faria presented a paper discussing obsolescence, waste and redundancy to an open audience in disused Blockbuster Video store, Catford, London, SE6. DELUGE: DISEMBOWELLING BLACK BOXES An essay by Francisco Calafate Faria responding to Deluge In the beginning there was the motion picture film - a sequence of photographs with a sound track. The reels could be transported in containers - those round metal cans. But the package was not essential to the mechanism. Then, once you opened a can and pulled the film to attach it to the projector, you could actually see … [cont reading on blog]

Nathan Harmer: Ext1
Ext1 is an interactive sound installation by Nathan Harmer centred round the nostalgic qualities of magnetic tape, particularly VHS. The piece takes place in a darkened room lit simply by the flicker of a cathode-ray tube television set playing back a video tape loop spliced together from videos found discarded in the street. As the loop runs it gradually degrades over time engaging the audience in repeating hypnotic visual glitches. With large clusters of tape hanging from the ceiling to enhance the atmosphere, a motion sensor is used to detect both the differences in lighting from the television flicker and the movements of the audience within the space. These fluctuations and reactions … [cont reading on blog]

A Provocation By Roanna Mitchell, PhD How technology makes our body its business: the shaping of the ‘good citizen’ from Jane Fonda to the Wii fit. Interactive installation followed by a talk and discussion by Roanna Mitchell Provocation for the Tapescape Catford: Intervention I My work is all about bodies. I work as a movement director and choreographer, I teach drama students, and I am writing my PhD about the body politics of acting: what happens to actors in those aspects of their job where they have to look a certain way, or ‘sell’ their body? Does the actor own his/her own body? What expectations do we have of an actor’s body? I also work with an organization, convened by writer Susie … [cont reading on blog]

Blockbuster Catford Part of Tapescape Catford: The Intervention II Original Deluge as part of Tapescape Catford: The Intervention I by Paul Halliday. Poster by Daniel Crawford from Type&Numbers DELUGE: A MOVING ART INSTALLATION RETURN OF THE VIDEOCASSETTES LOCATED IN CATFORD’S NEW 24 HOUR EXHIBITION SPACE Forgotten Catford can claim a London rarity: a 24-hour live art exhibition space May 23 to June 24, 2012 More than a thousand old videocassettes will be recycled after an art installation at a former Blockbuster video shop in Catford SE6 in April. “Tapescape Catford: The Intervention I” received such a big response that Lewisham Council, owners of the Blockbuster have extended the use of … [cont reading on blog]

In response to Deluge artist Paul Halliday and sociologist Francisco Calafate Faria presented papers discussing obsolscence, waste and redundancy to an open audience at Tapescape Catford Regarding Obsolescence An essay by Paul Halliday responding to his own art installation 'Deluge' Ob-sol-escence. What does this word mean? Such an intriguing word. A word that points to a rich etymological journey contained within the form itself; possibly even hinting at some remaining traces of onomatopoeia. A word such as ‘bang’ sounds like a bang, and a word like ‘swift’ conjures a visual image of an object moving quickly and resolutely through space. And when I hear the word ‘obsolete’, its lilting, … [cont reading on blog]

John McKiernan, founder of Platform-7 Events discusses public art interventions and contested space on The News Agents radio show with Professor Andy Pratt (City University, London) and Professor Loretta Lees (University of Leicester). This radio show was first broadcast on Resonance Radio 104.4FM in London, 1st March 2014 and is available as a podcast. Resonance 104.4fm The News Agents Radio Show, Saturday 1st March 2014, 2.30pm Producer: Jude Cowen Montague // Host: Rob Edwards Listen here Key points of the discussion: The bottom-up Moonbow Margate was set up as an alternative to Turner Contemporary, which is a top down initiative. For both Lees and Pratt, the project in Margate provided… [cont reading on blog]

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