Going Underground: Smile for LondonJanuary 18, 2011 Blogger in Residence, Community, Newsroom
If you travel across the city by Tube and are anything like me you’ll have found yourself, in recent months, staring across the tracks at the thin, curved screens arriving where before were peeling billboards. At first very little happened, but it was clear that ‘live’ advertising was about to start on the London Underground.
I found this quite exciting, in a distracting-yet-moving-with-the-times sense. Of course I expected this excitement to be dampened instantly with advertisements extolling the virtues of life insurance or personal shopping. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. The screen is only a blank canvas, a servant, and a project which has taken that literally is Smile For London.
They have invited film-makers to produce shorts – films, art or animation, to be cycled between advertisements on selected Tube platforms during the rush hour, between the 17th and 28th of January. Participants include Aardman (the creators of Wallace and Gromit), Anish Kapoor, Laurie Hill, Light Surgeons and Amy Thornley. Keira Knightley stars in a silent film called Maze made by artist Stuart Pearson Wright.
Last week the Museum of London hosted a celebration of the work of Smile for London, and an awards ceremony for the creative individuals and collectives who have taken part, with a showing of the shorts to be screened. Until the 28th the Museum will continue to screen the shorts in its digital space by the Galleries of Modern London.
The Museum’s support for Smile for London is a reflection of its constant participation in the curation and also creation of London’s history. It seems particularly fitting that thistakes place, for a short time on the London Underground, in Victorian tunnels on wartime platforms, obscured by 1980s carriages, seen by passengers carrying Oystercards and flicking through their Blackberrys. So if you’re on the Tube from now until the 28th look up and Smile for London.