School for the Creative and Cultural Industries


Testing Ground: an immersive sound and video exhibition

22 July 2023, 10:00 am–6:00 pm

Archive image from the Testing Ground exhibition

A new exhibition in UCL Urban Room of visual and sonic installations of contemporary and historic helicopter surveillance over London, Iraq and Belfast. Visit from 1st June - 22nd July, Monday - Saturday, 10am - 6pm, no need to book.

This event is free.

Event Information

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UCL Urban Room


UCL Urban Room
One Pool Street
E20 2AF
United Kingdom

Techniques of aerial surveillance were developed by the British Army over Belfast during the 30 year conflict - the so-called Troubles - that have since been adapted by the National Police Air Service for use over London and other British cities.

Taking over UCL Urban Room, Bartlett-based artists/researchers Henrietta Williams and Merijn Royaards set out to reveal how the British State developed aerial knowledge systems in colonial space and how these now play out over contemporary London.

Williams and Royaards' unique and powerful exhibition interweaves archival material gathered from the Imperial War Museum’s 'Northern Ireland Collection' against contemporaneous video footage and sonic field recordings of helicopter surveillance at moments of protest in London.

Plan your visit

The exhibition runs from 31st May - 21st June. Visit Monday - Saturday 10am - 6pm, no need to book.

Please book a ticket if you'd like to attend the following:

Tickets are required for the following special events:

  • 31st May, 5:30 - 8pm: Exhibition opening
  • 8th June, 11am - 3pm: SONCITIES Workshop: Covert Acoustics
  • 21st June, 12:00 - 14:00: How to build, use, and subvert an archive; interactive workshop with MayDay Rooms, Maev McDaid and Henrietta Williams

How to build, use and subvert an archive; interactive workshop

Join us for an afternoon of discussion around the practicaities and possibilities of building and working with archives. We're delighted to host the archivist and researcher Maev McDaid as she shares rare materials from the Troops Out movement collection currently housed at the MayDay Rooms.

This year marks 50 years from when the Troops Out Movement was first formed in West London to bring about the end of British Rule in the North of Ireland. Through the personal collection of campaigner Aly Renwick, and the digitising efforts of Maev McDaid and the MayDay rooms, we are able to appreciate a testimony to decades of grassroots resistance and solidarity amongst British and Irish activists with the aims of "ensuring British Troops Out of Ireland and Self-determination of the Irish People as a Whole".

Together we will learn about the significance of this collection and how the transition from ephemeral material to digital archive creates powerful opportunities for engagement and use.

Following a description of these materials on display and discussion on the archiving process, we will delve deeper into the ways archive material can be subverted, and the possibilities for new interventions and interpretations such methods open up.

Henrietta Williams will build on this discussion by walking us through the exhibition 'Treading Ground' (created in collaboration with Merijn Royaards) which weaves archival material gathered from the Imperial War Museum's 'Northern Ireland Collection' against contemporaneous video footage and spatial sound methodology, allowing us a sensory experience of being both complicit in and subject to aerial surveillance.