INTERCHANGE is an album and experimental film by Warm Digits.
CD + DVD set – Distraction Records DIST28
Deluxe Vinyl LP + DVD + Art Prints – Distraction Records DIST28LP / Alt.Vinyl AV046
These six new songs were inspired by images drawn from the Tyne and Wear Archives, of the 1970s’ biggest civil engineering project on Tyneside – the construction of Metro. We made this work for HALF MEMORY,a project by Tyne and Wear Archives, Tusk Music, Pixel Palace and basic.fm. It received its broadcast debut on basic.fm in January 2013 with a live debut at Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne, in April 2013, and you can read more about our thinking behind the project below.
Cut and Cover
Working for a Better Future
The Connected Coast
The Office of the Control Inspector
About INTERCHANGE: Warm Digits’ album & film project for Half Memory.
INTERCHANGE is an album and experimental film inspired by images drawn from the Tyne and Wear Archives, of the 1970s’ biggest civil engineering project on Tyneside – the construction of Metro.
Invited to investigate the archives to find inspiration to make some new music, we found almost by chance a lever-arch file containing a selection of battered medium-format contact sheets, documenting the transitions between the crumbling, decommissioned British Rail stations of Tyneside and the new, futuristic Metro stations. These 1970s photographs now carry a powerful aura of “nostalgia for the future” – looked at from the present day, from our position of learned helplessness in the face of neoliberal capitalism, they carry a hopefulness about publicly-funded civic development and connected communities which we seem to have lost touch with now. Visually, this has to do with the collision in the photographs of modernist architectural forms and advanced technology, with the dirt and grind of construction and the demolition and development of the older stations. This is what architecture critic Owen Hatherley calls the “outright weirdness” of the Metro system’s designs, its “curious combination of antique and futuristic”.
Delving deeper into the archives, we found they contained extensive documentation of the Metro’s development, chiefly in the Turner Photographic Archive, but also architects’ plans and drawings. In these photographs, tunnel shells bore unstoppably through the city’s underbelly; boffinish, white-coated engineers are lifted by crane into half-finished shafts; modernist, abstract geometric shapes resolve into walkways and overpasses. On the architects’ plans (of the interchange stations between bus and metro), tiny huddles of theoretical passengers wait as shadows on platforms, mothers push prams along walkways between metro and bus, smooth design lines for a better future are proposed and take shape in the public imagination.
We’ve written a suite of new songs, which are not about the Metro’s construction as such, but take and hold on to some of the spirits conjured by these pictures: of hopefulness for a publicly-funded civic future, of the use of new technology for change, of the excitement and propulsion of travel.
Our film, for which the album provides the soundtrack, uses images from the archive as the starting point for a new piece of visual imagery. We have been inspired by the vibrancy, colour and “visual music” philosophy of 20th century film artists including Len Lye and James & John Whitney, and the rhythm and rigour of the 1970s structural avant-garde filmmakers of the London Filmmakers Co-op including Guy Sherwin and Lis Rhodes. It’s an experiment in the pairing of sound and music, using rhythm and repetition to evoke and entrance, and think about the position of hope in civic life, forty years and a lifetime on, from the origins of the photographs.