“Phantom railings” is an interactive sound sculpture that uses the movements of pedestrians to evoke the ghost of a lost iron fence.
The site of the intervention is a garden in Bloomsbury, whose railings were removed as part of the 1940s war effort and never replaced, leaving a line of iron stumps along the surrounding wall. Using sensor-based acoustic devices, the installation makes evident the absence of railings by creating a resemblance of the familiar sound produced by running a stick along an iron fence.
The project, which has been awarded the “Inspire” mark of the Cultural Olympiad, draws on an episode in London’s history whose socio-political context remains relevant today. Inspired by the wartime initiative to democratise parks and gardens by removing their railings, the project engages with a centuries-old debate about public space and accessibility. The aim is to bring these subjects into question, promoting a critical awareness of the social and spatial history of the city in a way that is innovative, entertaining and, most importantly, accessible to all.
The project has been developed by public interventions, an interdisciplinary collective working at the Centre for Creative Collaboration (C4CC), University of London.