The Ballet of the Steel Dinosaurs

The Ballet of the Steel Dinosaurs

Six listed cranes line Imperial basin, striding in line to Imperial Dry Dock. The six are of different designs, articulated and balanced according to soon-to-be redundant industrial requirements. We believe these industrial artefacts should be not simply retained, but re-animated as interactive elements of a new living vibrant city quarter. 

So what should they do? In the absence of the demand for heavy moving ability, what part of the massive industrial labour of loading and unloading do we ape or recreate? In the absence of ships and cargo, what modern (or virtual?) goods do we metaphorically move from ship to shore or shore to ship in remembrance of their former massive efforts? 

Moving to relentless natural cycles by day

Moving to relentless natural cycles by day

We reject the idea of such a reworking of history as false and naive. Instead we put the cranes to work moving daily to relentless natural cycles and by night to ephemeral, whimsical and truly contemporary human impulses. Through their slow, balletic and un-workmanlike movements, we aim to reveal their true power and the importance of their presence in Leith of the past and the future. 

Tiny dinosaur heads

Tiny dinosaur heads

At daybreak (come rain or shine) the cranes will wake and unfold, flower-like, to offer their tiny dinosaur heads to the sun, warming cold-bloodedly in the weak rays. Following the path of the sun across the sky, the cranes move in varying paths through the year and work as some oversize seasonal clock. At sunset, they fold into themselves and pause, as if gathering their thoughts before the frenzy of activity that fills the time from sundown until midnight. During this time, the cranes act independently of each other, with movements that are as fast as can realistically be expected from their structures.

At sunset, they fold into themselves

At sunset, they fold into themselves

At sunset, they fold into themselves and pause, as if gathering their thoughts before the frenzy of activity that fills the time from sundown until midnight. During this time, the cranes act independently of each other, with movements that are as fast as can realistically be expected from their structures.

Otherwise invisible messages

Otherwise invisible messages

Responding in movement to mobile phone text messages from the public and website visitors, the cranes trace letters and messages in light across the night sky, much like a child signing their name with the light of a sparkler. These traces are not immediately discernable to the human eye due to the slow nature of the cranes, but can be viewed through specially adapted telescopes that capture the letters through video and long-exposure photography relayed on the website. Several of these viewers are distributed throughout the park opposite the cranes and allow an intimate viewing of the messages. Otherwise invisible, the messages drive the cranes into their graceful, dancing movements that would otherwise be alien to their former staccato, repetitive labour.

Credits

Credits

This gallery records the 1st prize winning entry for the RMJM Award for Art & Architecture 2004. The group members were: 

Ruth Bide (Drawing & Painting)
Christopher Gray (Architecture)
Rebecca MacDonald (Architecture)
Martine Pugh (Sculpture)

An article appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News.