Olympic Voices Project

During the summer of 2012 I was invited to participate in Providence Row's Olympic Voices project, exploring homelessness and social issues around the London Olympics. People with experience of homelessness and members of the local community worked closely with producer Shiraz Bayjoo to create documentary videos, stories and photographic works portraying a unique historical viewpoint of the Games.

Rich Mix Exhibition

The summation of this collaboration is on display at the Rich Mix gallery in London, from Wed 14 November - Wed 28 November.

The free exhibition features a timeline of diaries, images, testimonials, and videos from project participants, plus contributions from members of the Crisis Skylight photography group. It is also part of the 2012 international photography festival Photomonth East London.

Reaching The Tipping Point

Below is my short photo-story charting significant events during the Cultural Olympiad period 2008-2012, titled ‘Reaching The Tipping Point’. The piano soundtrack is by Alex Due, you can discover more of his CC-licensed compositions via his SoundCloud channel.

Also there are some images from my photographic series documenting the ‘Passion and Performance’ seen on London’s streets during the Olympics. You can view more of these images with titles and annotations via this online gallery.

The works reflect upon the build up to social change and the actual point of transition - the moment of truth. They also present a lighthearted and multi-layered view of the phrase tipping point. With any image try asking yourself: ‘Is there a tipping point here?’ or ‘Is there a deeper truth to be understood here?’

Reaching The Tipping Point by David Holmes from David Holmes on Vimeo.

Background to photography

The London Olympics and Paralympics presented a range of photographic opportunities and viewpoints to explore. From changes in the environment cosmetically such as advertising, lighting, signs and symbols, to the way people behaved and interacted in public spaces.

An unprecedented amount of events were taking place all over London, many of which were available free of charge to the general public. They included sporting occasions, art and culture exhibitions, street and theatre performances. Generally these activities conjured an atmosphere of good humour and togetherness often referred to as the feel good factor or people power.

I regularly journeyed from east London to the South Bank to photograph the people and attractions there. Using public transport from my home to Tower Bridge and then by foot across the Thames, I would travel up the riverbank through Southwark to Lambeth and the Westminster Bridge. Between both crossing points there was much to see and enjoy by way of public shows and entertainment.

I’m reminded of the parallels between a similar journey taken by Londoners some four hundred years earlier. People in Shakespeare’s time would have travelled across London Bridge to the Globe playhouse and nearby bear-baiting arena for entertainment. The bridge may well have been adorned with the remnants of another popular spectacle, that of public executions. These attractions were interconnected and in competition with one another. Incidentally many of Shakespeare's plays were originally staged at the Curtain theatre in London’s East End.

Including the South Bank, I chose to photograph activities taking place in other popular locations across London such as Canary Wharf, Greenwich, Hyde Park, Kensington, and Soho. As expected, digital photography was commonplace during London 2012, as was the sharing of images via the Internet on social media platforms. The ubiquity of image devices made taking pictures quite an open and casual affair, more so than was usual in these locations and public spaces generally.

Due to the large scale of these special olympic events I sensed a positive change in the mood of the public on the streets. I wondered if anything significant would come of this change in terms of something lasting, productive and beneficial. Perhaps a tipping point. Because of the immense organisational obstacles I felt people must have learned much about the nature of cooperation and that this would be to the common good. It was clear that the Games and any direct legacy would prove historically enlightening to later generations.


Big thanks to OV producer Shiraz Bayjoo, all the dedicated project participants, the helpful staff at Providence Row and sponsors Reed Smith. Also to Crisis creative arts manager - Paula Lonergan.

Related Reading

Malcolm Gladwell's book about the tipping point phenomenon is a popular read and his 2006 article from the New Yorker 'Million Dollar Murray' sheds light on 'why problems like homelessness may be easier to solve than to manage'.

Luna by Sergio Altamura

A haunting composition played to perfection by Italian artist Sergio Altamura, guitar and loop machine. From his first solo album "Blu" produced by William Ackerman in 2004, available at http://www.candyrat.com

More info can be found via his website: http://www.sergioaltamura.com/ and his Facebook community page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sergio-Altamura/47899619071

Fans of solo guitar music can listen to more gems like this via the CandyRat YouTube Channel and there's a selection of favourite Solo Acoustic Instrumental Videos on this PLAYLIST


Passenger - Audiovisual Collaboration by Julien Mier & Daan Kars

"Passenger" is a 28 minute audiovisual work created by musician Julien Mier and VJ Daan Kars. Featuring vocals by Zefora, with violin and contrabass recordings by Myrthe van de Weetering (see website for links to all artists).

Passenger tells the story of the liquid matter transforming into the physical in which humanity is able to manifest itself. As time passes by the physical is bound to disintegrate. We are all passengers in time.

The piece glides seamlessly through nine compositions starting gently and progressing rhythmically as scenes shift between organic natural environments and man-made ones. The effect is to transport you as a passenger through discreet moments of natural calm and bursts of urban motion. Shimmering windows of fragmented worldly images slide across the surface of a constantly reconstructing musical undercurrent. The fluid themes, punctuated by electronic pulses and pauses, form into recognisable patterns and momentary pools of clarity, that are quickly carried away again in the creative stream.

This is the first release on the new Born Digital netlabel, which is part of the Born Digital electronic art assembly and production house based in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Complete free download available from the Internet Archive under CC license.

Via Invisible Agent

Arms and Sleepers - The Architekt (Video)

Official video for the "The Architekt" by US band Arms and Sleepers. Directed by DJ and filmmaker Ben Andrews.

Max Lewis and Mirza Rami formed the band in 2006 and have gone on to create several albums/EPs of beautifully crafted ambient/trip-hop music.

The duo have started a new project called In The Empire Of Builders:

The sole purpose of this project/organization will be to raise money through various programs for groups and individuals in need of aid (financial or otherwise)... Our first fundraising campaign is called MUSIC AGAINST HUNGER, with the goal of raising $10,000 through various music events and projects.

For ways to participate and learn more please read.





Arms and Sleepers on Spotify.


Inspired by a photograph of birds perched on the wires of a street light, journalist and musician Jarbas Agnelli decided to write a song using the relative proximity of the birds as notes on a stave. "Birds on the Wires" is his musical interpretation of the picture. He says "Inspiration can come from anywhere, but we must be alert". You can follow Jarbas at http://twitter.com/jarbas_agnelli 

The video has received widespread attention, appearing on popular websites like Laughing Squid, Wired, and Gizmodo. Jarbas's friend, Sean Crownover (Candlegravity) from Tokyo, has also posted a version on his FaceBook page (player bottom left).

Link to original newspaper article (Portuguese)

Musical Data

I'm reminded of David Cope's ideas on the concept of musical recombinancy. In his "Experiments in Musical Intelligence" he argues that:

"...recombinancy appears everywhere as a natural evolutionary and creative process. All the great books in the English language, for example, are constructed from recombinations of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. Similarly, most of the great works of Western art music exist as recombinations of the twelve pitches of the equal-tempered scale and their octave equivalents. The secret lies not in the invention of new letters or notes but in the subtlety and elegance of their recombination."

These "hidden structures" are present all around us, at the very core of sound creation in the natural world. For more on exploring the hidden data in nature see Evan Grant: Making sound visible through cymatics (YouTube video)

Hard Believer by First Aid Kit

Swedish folk/indie duo First Aid Kit release their new songs "Hard Believer" and "Waltz for Richard" on October 5th via http://www.wichita-recordings.com/ - If you like the song above you can vote for it to appear on the official BBC 6 Music Playlist through Steve Lamacq's Rebel Playlist, the vote closes at midnight on Sunday 6th. 

Sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg come from Enskede near Stockholm. They have a loyal following of fans built through their personalised and direct style of social media marketing. An example is their use of Twitter to invite cover song requests which they publish online as video performances (First Aid Kit Sessions). The request form is at http://thisisfirstaidkit.com/your-requests/ the tweetstream is http://twitter.com/faksessions and the videos are shared via http://www.youtube.com/jagadambarecords

In fact it was their video cover of the Fleet Foxes "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" that attracted worldwide attention in 2008 (currently at 790,987 views).

The girls will be touring the UK with Fanfarlo during September/October. You can get tour details and purchase tickets via their website or Music Glue (includes exclusive free tracks). They have also announced tour dates for The United States of America in October, see their MySpace for further info.

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