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Cold Storage [2011]

A Battersea Arts Centre bedroom commission.

What would it be like to go to sleep and wake up in one thousand years time?

In this intimate, immersive experience Ray Lee invites you to go into cold storage, to be deep frozen and transported into deep space and experience the wonder of the universe….

Not suitable for those who suffer from claustrophobia.

In a room modeled on the regency bedroom from the end of 2001: a space odyssey, the one-on-one audience member is invited to lie down in a cryogenic sleeping pod, a sleek metal casket-like box familiar from any number of sci-fi films (Alien, 2001, Dark Star etc). A calm, white clothed technician assists as you climb into the cryogenic tank. The lid is closed on you. Inside it is cold, noticeably cold, freezing. Your hands and face feel the cold.

There is not much room inside. You are lying down on your back. The casket is lit from the inside and you see your reflected image on a mirror above you. You cannot see outside the tank. It is a bit like being in a coffin, or in a medical procedure, or… There is an uncomfortable sense of nothing happening except that you are beginning to feel the cold penetrate the outer layers of clothing that you wear. You wonder how long this will go on or if you will get too cold for comfort. Wearing headphones you listen to a calm, authoritative voice explaining what will happen to you. You will be deep frozen and put to sleep for a thousand years. The voice continues to gently talk to you and you are invited to consider the finite nature of our life span and as you do so the light dims inside the tank until you become aware that you can see through the glass window above you.

As you see through the glass and your mirror image fades you can see that above you are an endless sea of stars. You are now in complete darkness, in the cold of the cryogenic tank, looking out into space, as if set adrift, lost in an ocean of nothingness. (Ray Lee - April 2011)

Produced for Battersea Arts Centre’s One-on-One festival April 2011, Cold Storagewas the result of a commission to design an artist’s bedroom for the art centre and to devise a one-on-one performance to take place within this space.

The performance lasted ten minutes in total, with the audience being inside the tank for six minutes. This was long enough to be conscious of the reduced temperature without it becoming hazardous. All audience members were aware of the nature of the work and freely consented to take part.


The casket was designed and built by Ray Lee and covered in laser cut aluminium panels. The cold temperature was generated using an air conditioning unit where the thermostat had been adjusted so that the unit continued to produce cold air, thus reducing the temperature in the casket to 0%c. The assistant controlled the lighting and sound in the space, turning the soundtrack on at the beginning once the participant was inside the tank, and then reducing the lighting to reveal the starscape in the ceiling.

Supported by:

Battersea Arts Centre


Performer: Danielle Marshall

Production assistance, set dressing and additional design: Stavroula Kounadea


Alston, Adam Participation and the Production of Affect in Ray Lee’s Cold StorageConference Paper Theatre and Performance Research Association 2012

Battersea Arts Centre One-on-One Festival April 2011.