Secrecy and Technology Bus Tour (2009)

On the final day of the exhibition Dark Places, at John Hansard Gallery, the Secrecy and Technology bus tour took place, exploring the Cold War’s legacy in the South. Neal White and Steve Rowell led the critical excursion, a performance -led, mediated experience meticulously planned with Lala Thorpe of Arts Catalyst. The journey was timed to allow an in depth spatial and archival tour of sites of advanced technological development in the South of England, focusing on points of interest that emerged during the tensions and paranoias of the Cold War. 

The tour visited the sites of Chilbolton Observatory, Porton Down and RAF Boscombe Down, stopping off at a nuclear bunker, before lunch at the International School for Security and Explosives Education. In the afternoon, we took the bus of experimenters to RAF Blanford to visit the Signals Museum, pausing for tea, before heading back to the John Hansard Gallery, where a small evening event laid on by the gallery launched Office of Experiment’s publication The Redactor and allowed the bus tour participants to view the exhibition.

Being the first critical excursion, the tour was in an experimental form at this stage. Further to gaining access to sites, additional material had been obtained as part of the Overt Research project that gave travellers through the landscape access to a narrated series of films, you-tube videos, archived materials, and some classified films that we had gained access to through our research. One or a number of these were played between each visit, and informed the tone and sense of unease at the veracity of information both being shared on the bus, and with the public at each of the sites of interest.

The Office of Experiments’ Overt Research Project was supported by UCL Department of Geography and The Media School, Bournemouth University. Led by Neal White with Steve Rowell and Lisa Haskell.

Dark Places is commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and co-curated with the Office of Experiments, John Hansard Gallery and SCAN.

Further information is available at: (14/2/2013)

Participants arrive at the observation point for Chlibolton Observatory
Approach to Military Drone Site
Winners of a Raffle get to explore hidden Nuclear Bunker
Down the Hatch
Miscellaneous artefacts inside the bunker
Arriving at ISEEE
Inside the Signals Museum