Michael James Jones has created a silent black-and-white 16mm film with a looping series of scenes shot at The Economist’s headquarters in St James’s. The artist pays homage to the building’s status as a social and architectural landmark since it was built in 1964. The ‘open-aesthetic’ of the building was celebrated in the sixties as heralding a humanistic vision for the future. Its design expresses and welcomes social connections to this day.
The artist explains, “the proposed film explores the discrepancies between the concerns of the Smithsons represented by The Economist, contrasted with the social and philosophical realities the world has seen since. These changes are signalled through the structural and logistical modifications the buildings have undergone since completion over 40 years ago.”
One scene follows a businessman undergoing a tight security check at reception as he proceeds through the glazed porch. This 1984 extension ensures a single entry point, necessitated by the rise of terrorism and crime. Another highlights an original interior architectural feature: the ceiling air ducts, dubbed ‘luminaires’.
A graphic designer working at her desk is overcome with ennui and impulsively climbs into this air vault in an escapist fantasy. Michael Jones also emphasises the significance of the building in film history. Shots of an electric car circling the exterior plaza retrace the opening scene of Michelangelo Antonioni’s iconic 1966 film Blow Up, in which a jeep filled with bohemians whizzes around in a spirit of exhilarating liberation.
Michael James Jones is currently a post-graduate student in fine art media at the Slade School of Fine Art. The artist would like to express his gratitude to GoinGreen for the loan of a G-wiz car for the production of this film.