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Housewatch at Spitalfields
Brian Hatton reviews a Housewatch presentation in Princelet Street, Spitalfields, for Artscribe International

Housewatch have now staged enough of their collaborations to indicate two distinct levels to their work. The first is to do with its format, which tends towards the environmental, the structural, the architectural. The second concerns the particular thematic and aesthetic interests of the individual artists. The format that Housewatch have developed is undoubtedly promising. They project images from slides and movies onto windows of buildings; but unlike Krzysztof Wodiczko, who projects images onto architectural exteriors, Housewatch project from the building's interior onto its windows, which are filled with tracing paper to enable the images to be seen from the street. Considering the prominent role of glazing in modern architecture, this idea has immense potential. All-glass office blocks at present display only their own interiors at night, but one could imagine displays of shapes, colors and images transforming them and some of the city's more desolate streets and plazas after dark. However, the projections by Housewatch up to now have been engagingly modest; more domestic and neighbourly than megalomaniac. Thorp's name expresses a real interest in the motif of the house, common and anonymous from the outside, but home to countless different lives and dreams within. Watching houses can be like watching TV, a fact exploited by every TV sitcom, but there is also an entertaining irony in the spectacle of the windows of a commonplace street lit up like a firework display with exotic fantasies and luminous abstractions. Housewatch's presentation in Princelet Street, Spitalfields, spanned these possibilities and indicated the diversity of interests among the group. The production was sponsored by Artangel Trust and the Arts Council, which of course illustrates the major problem for this, as for other public art projects, namely that of funding. Tony Sinden's Pedestrian Colours initiated the evening, staking out the coordinates of the format by naming each window (East, West, Place, Floor, Door, Room, North, Wall) while fragments of Indian music accompanied transient colours and silhouettes. In Ian Bourn's Good Value Caff a comically vulgar customer mouthed Alf Garnett prejudices surrounded by images of a cheap café. Lulu Quinn's Ancestors toyed with the idea of a house haunted by Halloween pumpkins and primitive masks. Chris White, a painter, filled the house with glistening cascades and waves on a beach, in a reverie called Full Fathom. Alison Winckle returned to the claustrophobic interior in a piece called The Yellow Room, which arrayed obsessive repetitions of boards being scrubbed and skins being sewn with Lady Macbeth's "Out damned spot" replayed to a point of furious disintegration and then suddenly resolved into music from Cluck's Orpheus. Finally, George Saxon's The House That Jack Built combined projections with performance to stage a DIY son et lumiere burlesque around the figure of Jack The Ripper. The evening was a success beyond the particular qualities of each work, for it had the unusual merit of bringing out on a rainy night not only the usual avantgarde crowd but also a -good smattering of interested locals. An entertaining time was had by all.

Brian Hatton
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