Right of Way red amber green
Traffic Light tree, Pierre Vivant, London, 1998 -2011.
With the continual changing of old ‘analogue’ [bulb] signals to LED the above Traffic Light tree sculpture [comprised of 75 computer controlled sets of lights, which until a year ago stood on a roundabout near Canary Wharf] not only makes something generally so ubiquitous visible again, but also becomes a sort of outdoor design museum. One can only imagine the confusion of vehicle drivers when first confronted with this installation – Stop? Go? You? Me? All of us at the same time?
The only thing more confusing than a surfeit of signals is a paucity of signals where one expects different. But the ‘frightening’ thing about blanked off / out of operation traffic signals is not solely one suspects the fear of the general ‘lawlessness’ that no one having a clear right of way at traffic junctions entails? It is also perhaps a deep cultural memory of hooded and shackled criminals hung on giblets at crossroads [think also the poor ‘duffel bag’ straight jacketed Mr Buttle in Gilliam’s movie Brazil]?