A large video projection is installed in an empty market hall at night. It shows a time-compressed sequence of the day-long market that regularly takes place in the same site, alternating with an eerie night-time scene. The whole is a time-shifted, altered vision of a place, projected "in place".
For Overnight Sensation a video camera was installed over the entrance to St George’s market hall, to record the normal activities taking place there, and some out-of-the-ordinary events instigated by the artists in the empty space. The completed work combines both everyday and staged events with sounds recorded on-site and created digitally.
In the projected loop, one whole market day speeds past at an artificially rapid pace. As the actions of individuals are rendered as short-lived details, a wave of more gradual change is revealed in the rise and fall of commercial activity over the day, and in shifts of light and colour. The slower undercurent grows stronger as trestle tables are cleared away, and waves of fog pass through the market hall in time to a low, rushing pulse, obscuring the scene. In the night that follows, a cold light sweeps the hall from above, and from its beam a new market seems to materialise, its wares concealed under moonlit cloths and tarpaulins.
After completing the work the artists learned that St. Georges market hall was briefly used as a mortuary during World-War-II aerial bombardment, and was the venue for a public funeral for the unidentified dead. Although coincidental, once this is known the covered tables in the eerily lit space seem to recall these events, when the hall was instrumental in memorialising lives at their end, as well as in sustaining the living.
Coincidences aside, with Overnight Sensation the artists do intend to hint at the existence of a driving force or sustaining rhythm behind the everyday, visualised here as strange phenomena that play out at night. The work also presents a literalisation, or a fantasy – via video effects – of how sustained, mass use over decades might lend special status to a place, even to the point where a building is taken to be a witness of events, rather than an object of human witnessing.
Overnight Sensation commissioned by Belfast Festival at Queens and Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast.
Supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
Sponsored by WH Smith
Exhibition/event: Friday 26, Saturday 27, Sunday 28 October, Sat 3 November - Wed 7 November, 2001
At Ormeau Baths Gallery
Commissioning curator: Hugh Mulholland (Director)
At Belfast Markets