I Want To Blow Up The Palace: Research Day 1

Politics, Theatre


This is the auto-surveillance report of the first day of research for the performance project I Want To Blow Up The Palace Of Holyroodhouse (for art)

On 9th October 2013, between 1500 and 1800 hours, Harry Giles did use the following Google search terms

  • How to make a bomb
  • How to make a bomb out of fertiliser
  • How to make a bomb out of bleach
  • Is making a bomb illegal?
  • “possession of records of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”
  • Terrorism Act
  • UK Explosives Law
  • Where can I buy explosives?
  • Exploding with high pressure water
  • Exploding with high pressure air

and access the following websites:

His research was retweeted or otherwise condoned by the following people publicly on Twitter:

  • @danielbye
  • @solobassteve
  • @spunshon
  • @hannahnicklin
  • @dannybirchall
  • @kieranhurley
  • @amaenad
  • @hannahsilvauk
  • @jenniferreynard

and also approved of by:

  • 15 people on his private Facebook timeline (names withheld and stored in private records)
  • 4 known individuals at the Forest Café research location and 2 unknown individuals (names withheld and stored in private records)

His research questions were:

  • What types of SAFE & LEGAL SMALL EXPLOSIVES are there?
  • Do I need to MAKE a bomb or can one be PURCHASED?
  • If MAKE, where can I acquire MATERIALS?
  • If PURCHASE, from where?

His conclusions were:

The internet has literally hundreds of recipes for making bombs. Popular ingredients include fertiliser, matches, bleach, batteries, soap, baking soda and sparklers. Recipes can be found on websites ranging from ask.com and answers.wikia.com to dubious caches of paramilitary websites. Most of these recipes are simple, poorly spelled and coarsely detailed. Using any of them would involve much experimentation, which would clearly risk life and limb. It might also be illegal.

In the UK, it is illegal to access and possess information which could be used to commit acts of terrorism, unless you can prove that you have it for purposes other than terrorism. It is illegal to make any statements which encourage or glorify terrorism, and also to recklessly make any statements which might indirectly encourage or glorify terrorism. With this in mind, I would like to publicly and clearly state the following:

  • All the information I am accessing is to be used only for blowing up a small scale model of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in a safe and legal manner.
  • I neither condone nor encourage the actual blowing up of actual public buildings, and will not be sharing my research with anyone who does in an encouraging way.
  • Any websites I link to here or on Twitter are for information or humour purposes only, should not be used for acts of terrorism, and can be found by a very basic Google search anyway.

I am quite disappointed by having to make these statements, as I had hoped to inhabit the problematic and risky space of whether or not I actually approved of blowing up palaces for much longer. However, over the course of my research it became apparent that I’m on thin enough ice as it is and this whole project will be taking place in edgy and difficult territory even with the above statements made and regularly repeated.

I also determined that it is illegal to own explosives with the intent to endanger life or property (presumably other people’s), and that the acquisition and storage of all explosives is carefully monitored and delineated by a number of legal Acts. In order to use almost any explosive capable of blowing up a model palace, I would have to apply to the police for an explosives license.

Research questions for future periods will therefore include whether I could blow up the palace with any of the explosives exempt from a license, how difficult the license application would be, where I could buy said explosives from, and whether I could blow up the palace with high pressure water or air instead.

I Want to Blow Up the Palace of Holyroodhouse is a performance project about:

  • Rage and its uses
  • Free speech and its limits
  • Art and its effectiveness
  • Surveillance and the state

The performance consists of the three phases: (1) the active period of research involved in figuring out how to build a scale model of Holyroodhouse and then legally blow it up, which will take place in public, preferably in arts venues; (2) the actual blowing up of the model Palace; (3) a performance lecture about how and why I did it and what happened. If you have access to space in an arts venue and would like me to research bomb-making in your space, please get in touch.

Please note, I will be recording all documentary evidence of this project, up to an including my private thoughts on the matter, in an auto-surveillance dossier in order to spare the public purse. Please note that all comments and mentions of this post will thus be monitored for monitoring purposes.


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