Back in 2013, temp0rary were approached by Gavin Saxby, who has spent the last decade or so lovingly restoring a nuclear bunker in Dundee to the condition it was in when it was decommissioned in 1991. He invited us up to see the space, with a view to perhaps doing a performance late in 2014. At temp0rary HQ, we thought that was a fabulous opportunity, but also decided that if we were going to do an 800-mile round trip we should prepare to make the most of our time there.
Nothing could have prepared us for walking into the bunker – the attention to detail in the restoration is beyond belief. This wasn’t a film set or a museum piece; the technology was period accurate and most of it was working, all the workspaces were restored to their former glory from photographs and discussions with staff, every cupboard, filing cabinet and drawer was full of paperwork that looked like it had laid untouched for nearly 25 years. In actual fact, when Gavin & his crew inherited the bunker it was pretty much an empty shell which makes their achievement even more staggering.
Originally, temp0rary had planned to use the space as a backdrop to a work of fiction, but it rapidly became apparent that the bunker had its own stories to tell; with a heritage this rich, it seemed only proper that we use the reality of the bunker’s history as the basis for our performance. We set about photographing, filming and recording the sounds of the space, and in a frenetic 10-hour session put together the basis for a performance based on bringing the bunker back to life.
The performance was a combination of found sounds, multi-screen projections, improvised electronics, recorded interviews with people who had served in the bunker, archive footage and theatre, and the 2 hour performance was streamed live over the internet via CCTV cameras, with further footage collected from other cameras around the control room. If initial numbers are to be believed, close to 150 people tuned in to the live broadcast. The archive of the broadcast can be found here:
We will be working on combining the best of the footage into a video of the live performance in the coming weeks which will allow more of a view of the environment the performance was created in.
This first bunker session performance has been massively inspirational for everyone involved in it, and there are already discussions about how we build on our initial visit, incorporating more historical elements and capturing more of the sounds of both the the oral histories of those who worked there and the bunker & its equipment. temp0rary really cannot thank Gavin and all at 28th Group Observed enough for the opportunity to work in this unique and inspirational space.