Sunday, 10 May 2009

Depollutant Drone

If you've been reading a lot and know the area well then you may by now have worked out that over the time of these trespasses I became a creature of habit, only venturing into two areas of the site once the fence was up. One near where the main stadium now stands flanked by the Greenway, the other alongside the canal. These choices were pragmatic, I had two tried and tested entry points and with the ground changing so fast there was no need to try to cover the whole terrain. Sufficiently terrified from my last jaunt on the Greenway side (see two posts down) I opted to return to the canal side, where, by now, two windows had been cut into the fence to allow the passers-by to glimpse the transformations afoot. My trusty tree was still standing so getting in was no trouble.

Since my last visit to this area all of the demolition work had been completed, all that remained of the burnt out site of the fire were three skinny monoliths, the surrounding ground was eerily flat. The water tank that had been the site of my first Olympic Site field recording was still intact, graffiti-ed teeth and gums wrapped around its galvanised drum. There was no activity to be seen anywhere, so I was feeling considerably calmer than last time and wandered around at ease with these familiar surroundings. I tried a series of shot with limited success before rounding the water tank and focusing my ears on a constant drone that wavered in the air around me. Climbing the slope it grew constantly in volume, until I could see its source. In the ten or so weeks since I had last been here a large, yellow industrial installation had sprung up. Now within metres of its fence the drone filled the air around me, shifting subtly in pitch and overtone structure as I moved around it. Once again I cursed not having recording equipment. Engulfed in this intense sound there was no need to creep around, there was no chance of my being heard.

I have since learnt that the installation was one of many soil treatment works, steadily sorting, sifting and cleaning the horrendously polluted earth. I could only assume that the sound it was emitting indicated it was still on, and bright lights glowed from its centre, so I worked on the (false) assumption that someone would be here to watch over the machine. The site was hemmed in on all sides by a thin mesh fence, but my attention was drawn first to a bank of scaffolding along its right hand edge. This provided an all too rare opportunity to get off ground level. I took two shots clambering among the scaffold poles, throwing my body into rigid shapes that mimicked their geometric netting; glancing constantly into the lights for fear of silhouettes. I now figured I was alone and decided to breach this little fence and head for the source of the sound.

Once in among the yellow hulks of metal, the drone became brash and forceful, losing all of the subtle detail it had had from a distance.I felt like a child in an adventure playground however, I had jumped the moat, scaled the battlements and could now explore the castle. I strolled leisurely through it, struck by its beguilling functionality. A sprawling machine so purposeful and yet so mystifying.

On my way out I noticed a strip of orange plastic gauze trailing up a heap of rubble near the fence. On the other side of the canal the Velvet Underground blared out of the open top floor of a light industrial building which was clearly now home to yet another group of artist-pioneers, preparing the ground for the property developers one decade hence. I stopped for one final picture.