THE SENSATIONAL SILVER CITY
The inspiration behind the project is based on when the world-famous magician and escapologist Harry Houdini dove into Aberdeen harbour whilst in chains in 1909. A large crowd gathered during a storm to witness him handcuffed and chained and then dropping into the sea from a tugboat within the breakwater of the navigation Channel. There are many references to his ‘notorious manacled dives’ and the level of drama was high as he spent a minute and a half in the murky depths before resurfacing and coming ashore at Fittie. Many people believed Houdini had superhuman powers, he was a headline grabbing, public celebrity sensation.
‘THE SENSATIONAL SILVER CITY’ is a film and sound installation that pays homage to this theatrical event by filming a cross section of the North-east community underwater and suspended in time. A sound design for the work created with composer Lucie Treacher accompanies the work which features the voices of an Aberdeen chorus to create a new ethereal and theatrical artwork.
Houdini is further connected to Aberdeen through one of his great inspirations, John Henry Anderson, ‘Wizard of the North’ who is buried in St Nicholas Graveyard in Aberdeen city centre. Houdini was born in the year that Anderson died and Anderson was one of the first great showman and was said to be the first conjurer to produce rabbits from a hat. Houdini arranged for the upkeep of Anderson grave that had fallen into disrepair.
Commissioned by Aberdeen Performing Arts as part of Wonderland Festival
Producer / Director and Editor - Graeme Roger
Composer and Sound Design - Lucie Treacher
Underwater Cinematography - Mike Webster
Underwater Assistant - Sherrill Mason
Production Assistant - Amelie Roger