1908 The first London games

  • Atkinson, Sarah (CoI)
  • Tomlinson, Alan (PI)
  • Cole, Marley (CoI)
  • McCarthy, Marie (CoI)
  • Weatherall, Sarah (PI)

Project Details


1908 was a research project bringing the University of Brighton's expertise in sports history and analysis alongside its leading reputation in experimental media production.

Professor Alan Tomlinson, Dr Sarah Atkinson and Marley Cole from the University of Brighton joined the Lightning Ensemble production company and Jacksons Lane, a multi-arts venue in Highgate North London, in order to investigate the event and the personalities of the first London Olympic Games in 1908.

The performance '1908: The First London Games' by Lightning Ensemble at Jacksons Lane reimagined stories and characters from the Edwardian sports and entertainment spectacle in a show inspired by circus, with a specially constructed soundscape by Dr Sarah Atkinson and Marley Cole.

It was one of four flagship projects commissioned by the Creative Campus Initiative, a consortium of 13 South East higher education partners working together to create an exciting programme of events for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It was awarded an "Inspire" Mark project as endorsed by LOCOG.

Atkinson and Cole created a hypersonic digital soundtrack, projecting sound through the space. Dennis Baxter, Sound Designer for the Olympics working with the project in an advisory capacity.

Dr Sarah Atkinson and Marley Cole drew on their initial Creative Campus Initiative project 'Auditoryum'. Using practice-based research techniques, they explored the collusion of old and new media through the digital sonification of the 1908 Olympic games.

The audio work expanded upon previous published research into immersive audio, surround sound and multi-channel audio extending into experiments with audience expectation, perception and interaction, exploring the theatrical nature of sound and audio authenticity.


University of Brighton: Dr Sarah Atkinson, Principal Lecturer in Broadcast Media; Marley Cole, Technical Demonstrator; Professor Alan Tomlinson, professor of leisure studies who had written extensively about the Olympics, including the publication 'Watching the Olympics, politics, power and representation.'

Lightning Ensemble is a registered charity founded in 1995, and was re-launched as a producing company in 2006. The company has spent that time exploring the theatrical experience in site specific projects (both indoors and outdoors), responding to the challenges of the individual location.

Jacksons Lane is a multi-arts venue in Highgate North London supporting emerging and established artists. It is one of the UK’s leading producers of new small-mid scale circus, working across a range of strategic partnerships and supports companies such as Mimbre, Upswing, Sugar Beast and Acrojou.

Flora Herberich Creative Consultant (Circus) trained in competitive Sports Acrobatics before discovering her love for theatre. For the next 10 years Flora worked as a circus artist and performer based in Belfast. Flora moved to London in 2010 to take up the ACE funded Fellowship in Circus Producing with the Roundhouse and Jacksons Lane.

Emergency Exit Arts founded in 1980, is a leading light in celebratory and spectacular outdoor events with a national and international reputation for excellent touring work throughout Europe. EEA has been commissioned by London Borough of Greenwich to animate the public spaces close to games sites in the borough – Woolwich, O2 and Greenwich Park.

Key findings

Working with both the very earliest generations of analogue sound recording equipment (such as carbon granular microphones), and the very latest (contact microphones, 22.2 surround sound and hypersonic audio), this project provided a unique site for the practice-based study of multi-channel sonification and spatialisation, the findings of which were published in academic journals.

The project informed the practices of the collaborating sound engineers and broadcaster Dennis Baxter, Sound Designer for the Olympics and Bill Whiston, Sound Designer for Wimbledon.
Short title1908
Effective start/end date1/01/1230/06/12


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