Kostoglotov ~ East London 27.7 – 13.8

The Olympic torch relay may have been portrayed as the precursor to the London 2012 Olympics, but in reality the progression of the flame effectively lit the Olympic touchpaper, sparking off amazing scenes of electrifying excitement and smiles of joy, while igniting the thrill of being an Olympic host city. Enthusiastic crowds flooded out into the suburban streets to see ‘the kiss’ – the passing of one torchbearer’s flame to another – as the flame eventually made its way into the Olympic Stadium itself, and to the stunning, and incredibly touching, lighting of the beautiful cauldron. July the 27th saw the official opening of the London 2012 Olympics, the pyramidal tip of the Olympic Stadium’s lights and lasers jetting out into the black sky, deep into the boroughs and further out. The wait was over; it was finally happening.

The flame also ignited hearts. Living in London, I noticed the rapid change myself; people actually talked to fellow commuters on the London Underground. For people new to the city, this change was similar to the second coming. Even the police were all smiles. East London 27.7 – 13.8 consists of field recordings taken on the night of the spectacular opening ceremony, punctuated by loops of guitar and light drone and recorded close enough to the Olympic Park to savour forever the universal, inspirational atmosphere.

The Olympic spirit was there in abundance; it still exists in the city. However, as with anything, there was also a darker side to the event. Tension and anxiety filled the streets with only days to go, and the massive military presence, although friendly, may have felt intimidating. Some residents, perhaps rightly so, complained about surface-to-air missiles that sat perched on top of apartments, ready for any potential strike, and even warships lay docked along the Thames. Yet, with all of the high security, it could be argued that London had never been safer. The free spirit of the games shone down on the city, and with the use of field recordings, Kostoglotov has captured London’s atmosphere during the energy, excitement and chaos of the games; he has also bottled the elixir of feverish Olympic spirit that brought a new lease of life to the city. Seeing as Kostoglotov is a Londoner himself, living only a couple of miles away from the now empty stadium, the three recordings make for an aural document that will last for years to come.

Police sirens are heard, along with the ferocious, and slightly menacing, intent of “Helicopters Over East London”, rotor blades spinning in the sky, hovering over Stratford amid yells and cheers. Local house parties rumble on well into the night, and this party atmosphere could be seen and felt throughout the city. It was a worldwide party, but, as seen during the opening ceremony, it was one with its own, distinct style; London style.

The stunning fireworks that brought July’s ceremony to a close blast colours and boom noise over the music in an explosive pyrotechnic display, lighting up the sky and rocking against a delayed guitar melody. A protest, kindled in East London, can be heard in the shouts of ‘get out’, repeating loudly and turning the air, and the spirit, slightly sour. It was a protest that was, perhaps rather unnervingly, erased from the local and national news coverage. A guitar screams out overdriven obscenities, crying with a distorted dissonance. The drone that also lives in ‘Our Place In This Space” is no match for Usain Bolt over a 100 meter sprint, but it may run the marathon athletes close in terms of endurance and longevity.

Dreams came true, and dreams were shattered; the training, dedication, glory and failures of sport all highlighted in front of billions of eyes. ‘Where We Live’ could be its own statement, pondering the impact that the hosting of the games had on Londoner’s lives. Not only was it an international celebration of sporting competition; it also lit up the very human spirit of endeavour, fulfilled achievement, and of sacrifice, too. Seeing a beach volleyball stadium inside Horse Guard’s Parade, whether viewed on top of the London Eye or alongside St. James’ Park, will remain a sight framed forever in the eyes. Even the weather was glorious! Well, for the most part…

The 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games left East London, and Stratford in particular, transformed forever, and with an Olympics that will live long in the memory. It was a classic Olympiad and a golden games that really did inspire a generation. Kostoglotov has provided his own legacy, so crucial to the winning bid. After the gold, silver and bronze medals have faded in colour, the Olympic spirit still shines through, and just as quickly as it had begun, the party was over; the flame extinguished.

Until Rio 2016, the London 2012 spirit shines on, with Kostoglotov’s performance another reason to celebrate. See you in Rio. (James Catchpole)

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