Posts Tagged ‘concept categories divisions space thought inbetweens boundaries edges travel’

Shape Two

April 18, 2010

Shape Two began at at Whitechapel Art Gallery on a Sunday. There is now a second entrance to the gallery: just next to a fast food restaurant – 20 metres west of the main entrance – is a tiny gap between the buildings called Angel Alley. In 1888 a prostitute disappeared up Angel Alley and never returned alive.

From here I moved west along the Whitechapel Road and across the opening artery of Commercial Street which leads up to Hawksmoor’s famous Christchurch. I crossed over the road that forms part of a zero around the Algate East station – the island which houses St. Boltoph’s church – and then onto and along Aldgate. I took a dip down off Aldgate and onto London Street, a quiet road, particularly on a Sunday when the the City Of London is calm and business is on hold.  Down here is Fenchurch Street Station. Its an odd sight: a grand building nestled among bland, 20th century offices of glass and steel.  I’d come here for a purpose: the site sits on a leyline.

Christopher Wren’s grand designs for a post-fire London in 1666 were buried in bureaucracy and never came into fruition. However, significant evidence does remain. Presumably through Cabbalist reasoning, Wren used the Jewish distance of 2000 cubits to place significant sites. For example, the eastern city boundary from ‘the centre-point’ of St Paul’s, at a distance of 2000 cubits, is St Dunstan In The East – a church for which Wren also designed the spire. Another 2000 cubits beyond that point lies Wellclose Square, a once exclusive estate and a site of pilgrimage for many London occultists and alchemists. The significance of the 2000 cubits is that it was the distance from the walls of Jerusalem to the Mount Of Olives (roughly two thirds of a mile) and is the farthest a Jew may travel on the Sabbath.

This suggests Wren had plans for a ‘New Jerusalem’ that he never had the chance to construct and that Wellclose square is the same distance from (Wren’s) City Of London as The Mount Of Olives was from Jerusalem. On the leyline running from St Paul’s directly out to Wellclose Square, roughly three quarters of the way along, is Fenchurch Street station. Hawksmoor’s St Mary Woolnoth church also sits directly on the ley line a quarter of the way out.

Drawn out on a map, Shape Two surprised me. I had unwittingly traced the shape of a horse head in my steps.

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The Land Where Edges Meet

January 10, 2009

The road continued straight ahead of us as the bus was blocked, coming to a standstill in front of a simple red and white barrier which denoted an edge, a border, a point where this place was about to end. All around us were plants, trees and bushes, and the sounds of animals amongst them. We alighted the bus and our passports were stamped: an official mark to recognise our exit, and with that, we were politically gone. We got back on the bus and drove two hundred metres through the space between spaces; no man’s land. We got off the bus once more, blocked by another barrier, had our passports stamped again and were officially administrated into a new land with a different name and a different language. And that was that.

The land between the two borders appeared to be identical to the space on either side of it, despite my knowledge to the contrary. There were no natural marks on the ground to mark out any crossing points; no lines in the sand; nor did the animals sound any different.

What is it to be inbetween places, to be neither here nor there, neither one thing or another? A sliding scale of grey exists between black and white, but at what point – and where – does white cease to be white and become black? It is only by creating a border, by drawing a line in the sand, that we can differentiate one thing from another. But how do we define the gap between those things?

It is only on a map you can see the boundaries of a country – where its inhabitants have decided a place must end so another can begin. From an aeroplane window, or a car or a boat, there is nothing of the sort – no huge dotted line on the ground – just the perception that something has changed; you leave one culture and are greeted by another. Maps are definitions of territory, they are just lines in sand. But in the space between those lines, like the darkness between the frames of a movie, or the space between black and white, there is uncharted territory.