Thursday, October 12, 2006


The flying steamroller: a big yellow diesel roller linked by wires and a beam to a counterweight. It was very grounded when I walked between the Tate Britain and the Chelsea Parade Ground at five to five on Monday.

I assumed it was some arty joke: that we the audience had to imagine it flying in our heads, just like Mark Titchner's Tuner prize entry asks us to use our psychic powers to lift his sculpture off the ground.

I confess to failing to lift Titchner's statue. I am aware that this failure of mine is one factor contributing to the likelehood that Titchner will not get the Turner prize (another being that Phil Collins's reality TV work has blown everyhting else away). I really did not feel confident about levitating that steamroller.

They didn't need me. At five o'clock an announcement was made, stewards went to the four corners of the parade ground and a driver in blue overalls walked over to the roller. She turned its engines on and drove it noisily round the parade ground a few times. Then all of a sudden it lifted up. She switched the engine off, and her and roller very quietly rotated round the counterweight for a few spins of the parade ground.

She closed her eyes, and driver and steamroller looked as serene and weightless as human being and machine have ever looked.

I felt as light as air, as though it was me flying above the ground, not the steamroller.

We don't have to let gravity keep us down

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