The Sweet Spot


  • Graeme Crowley
  • The Mustard and Blood Orchestra


What do you feel when you hear the National Anthem? Pride? Embarrassment? Resentment? Indifference? It occupies a peculiar place in our cultural psyche; from the Proms to the Terraces it means different things to different people.

With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 London Olympics, we’re set to hear God Save the Queen more than usual this summer. And why not? It’ll be used in positive ways to recognize the successful athletes and as a calling card for Britain. The National Anthem is a loaded symbol, however. For many it has well-known and well-trodden negative associations: colonialism, nationalism and a monarchy that has no place in modern Britain.

These contradictions are the starting point for The Sweet Spot, an interactive audio-visual installation that takes a wry look at the National Anthem by reinterpreting it through sound and audience participation. Infrared cameras capture the coordinates of the people in the gallery, and this positional data is used to manipulate an alternative recording of the British National Anthem. If all of the participants congregate on the ”˜sweet spot’ – an unmarked area within the room – they hear a pared-back recording of the anthem. If any of the participants move to other parts of the gallery space, however, the track becomes more complex as new parts are triggered and distortion seeps in.