Our cinema uses electricity generated by the sun to power a digital projector. But now there’s a cinema in London which uses sunbeams directly for projection of films. The sunlight is collected by a glass dome and channelled through an old overhead projector, passing through an LCD screen playing films. The Sun Cinema was constructed at the Imperial College London Physics department. It is housed in a yurt, and films are shown in a pool of light on a tabletop. A new type of flexible solarcells cover the yurt, and provide electricity for a small computer and an LCD screen.
The website for the project has instructions and blueprints for anyone wishing to build something similar:
We were fascinated by the projector that channelled sunlight, and got in touch with Geraldine Cox, who was artist-in-residence at the physics department when the Sun Cinema was built. Here’s how she describes the projector:
“The sunlight is directed through the lcd panel that has been extracted from an old computer screen (this is a fairly delicate operation and takes someone with electrical know how). The optical arrangement is simply an upside down overhead projector with the lcd panel placed where the transparency would normally sit and the projection lens focused down onto the table.”
On a recent trip to London we managed to visit to the amazing MayDay Rooms in 88 Fleet Street.
The building is used as an archiving transit space, where historical material on protest- and social movements is digitized, activated or connected to movements active in the present, and eventually passed on to suitable archives elsewhere. Quoting the website maydayrooms.org: “MayDay Rooms is a safe haven for historical material linked to social movements, experimental culture and the radical expression of marginalised figures and groups. It offers communal spaces to activate archives’ potential in relation to current struggles and informal research, challenging the widespread assault on collective memory and historical continuity.”
The building contains informal meeting spaces which can be used by outside organisations lacking premises of their own, or currently engaged with the archive material. Here’s the roof garden, designed by artist Nils Norman, across the street from the offices of investment bankers Goldman Sachs.
We were given a generous and personal introduction to the organisation and activities of MayDay Rooms by one of the founders, Anthony Davies, over a cup of tea in the canteen.
Lisa and Kalle in the Canteen
One of the documents that Anthony introduced us to was a soundrecording of Charles Mann, recounting his experiences working with a mobile outdoor cinema in 1930’s East End, showing Soviet films from a projector powered by the battery in his car.
Listen to it here
If anyone anywhere has any more information on the cinema of Charles Mann, please let us know!