The infamous Marble Arch Mound, which set social media and newspapers abuzz a few months ago, is trying once again to be taken seriously, this time with a new LED exhibition.
Having already been widely (and rightly) mocked, resulting in the resignation of a Westminster council member and the scrapping of its entry fees, this latest development in the saga has, at least, been part of the plan all along. The Mound was originally going to feature a light display back when it opened in July, but the idea was delayed for a few months, partly due to the pretty brutal reception the site received upon opening.
Shockingly, unlike the Mound itself, which looks like a half built LEGO project, this new light display actually seems fairly impressive. It’s called Lightfield, and is located underneath the Mound itself, consisting of an infinity room filled with several cubes made of steel, glass and LED lights.
Shockingly, unlike the Mound itself, which looks like a half built LEGO project, this new light display actually seems fairly impressive...
The cubes are all connected by ethernet cables, and the lights in the cubes can “follow visitors” around through the exhibit. The cube lights are supposed to represent the connected roots of a birch tree forest (eh?), and the entire thing is controlled by a single “computer brain”.
The artist behind the exhibition, Anthony James, is known for his installations, having used lights and mirroring since the early 2000s. Presumably, when he was originally offered the job, James didn’t realise that he would also have to shoulder the weight of rescuing some of the mound’s reputation.
And I know what you're thinking "WTF is mycorrhizal?
Commenting on his piece, he said “Lightfield consists of 12 cubes that allude to the mycorrhizal nature of birch tree forests” and it “transports visitors into another world to create a meditative and limitless narrative.” And I know what you’re thinking “WTF is mycorrhizal?*”. They’re certainly ambitious words, and perhaps we can all meditate on why the Mound was approved in the first place?
Like the Mound itself, Lightfield is free for visitors to enter, though there is a booking system in place for the Mound as a whole, so availability is somewhat limited. The website states that community groups and local schoolchildren will be able to visit the Mound and the exhibit at monthly “meet the curator” events. The council hopes that this will allow children to learn about the environment and architecture, which is certainly a noble aim, even if the Mound doesn’t exactly have the architectural beauty of the Louvre or the Chrysler Building.
Apparently, in addition to the cafe that’s already there, an M&S food truck will arrive on site in the coming weeks to sate visitors’ appetites after their tiring assent. Fancy!
Perhaps in the end, Lightfield will become the main attraction, with the Mound itself a curious afterthought...
As it stands, the installation is currently scheduled to last until December. Whether it can resurrect the mound’s reputation as being a laughable mess and London’s worst attraction remains to be seen. The light show inside the mound definitely seems like a better view than the wheelie bins and scaffolding that were previously visible outside the Mound, so perhaps in the end, Lightfield will become the main attraction, with the Mound itself a curious afterthought.
* Mycorrhizal is the symbiotic relationship between a fungus and a plant. So is the Mound the fungus?