LINKED is an artistic response to the creation of the M11 Link Road in East London in the 90s which involved the demolition of 400 homes, including Miller’s own, amid dramatic and passionate protest. Launched in 2003, LINKED was originally commissioned by Museum of London and produced by Artsadmin.
LINKED has endured as perhaps the largest sonic installation and sculptural entity in London for 20 years. Since 2003 its transmitters have broadcast over a million times the voices of people who lived or worked in the area impacted by the road.
Along a 3-mile route between Hackney Marshes and Redbridge Roundabout, 20 analogue radio transmitters can be heard by anyone with a special receiver, revealing 60+ voices of people who once lived and worked in the area – resident families, road protestors, railway-workers, teachers, disco-goers, and artists from the substantial community living in houses destroyed by the road. Together the assembly of voices evokes a cross-section of ordinary East London life.
LINKED was intended to remain unseen, an almost secret layer of the geography of the communities where it transmits. It is in perpetual dialogue with the current walker/listener who animates the work with their attention, finding their own narratives and in this sense, it is a social sculpture intended for a dynamic and changing area. Each 8-minute radio composition relays both the details of personal landscapes and the often dramatic events that took place in the area.
The transmitters broadcast on a single frequency and with a receiver the walker is able to navigate the neighbourhoods adjacent to the motorway, finding pools of sound that relate to the specific locations. Over the passage of time this work about the politics and poetry of place has come to reflect issues relating to community, environment and protest and the impact of sudden, top-down developments on people and place.
Over the years some of the transmitters have been lost – to a lorry crashing into a lamppost, to accidentally being taken down by contractors, to weather, time and entropy. Amazingly many have endured. It is not only time to refurbish this work, but time to look at how it works in time and how public art endures or de-commissions itself. For its 20th anniversary year, Graeme is restoring the entire network and making it available to the public via monthly open days and a series of events in 2024, to be announced soon. The first three of these open days are an offsite commission for the Radical Landscapes programme hosted by Morris Gallery.
LINKED was originally an Artsadmin project produced by Judith Knight and Mark Godber and commissioned by Museum of London in 2003. The making of LINKED was generously supported by Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, London Boroughs Grants Committee part of the Association of London Government, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the London Boroughs of Redbridge and Waltham Forest. The restoration of LINKED (2022 – 2024) is supported by Arts Council England.
With thanks to all the many interviewees, production teams and friends involved in developing LINKED and to the researchers who developed the interview content for LINKED (2003): Lucy Cash, Myra Heller, Dan Saul, Michael Sherin, Helen Statman. Original technical design by Simon Beer of Integrated Circles.
Production (2023/24): Steve Wald, Mike Harrison, Lydia Newman, Chris Warner, Vida Vojić, Nikki Tomlinson
Images: Graeme Miller