Arcadian Oddity

Collabrate with: Amelia Goldie, Sienna Liu, Johanne Jensen


In many cultures, mystical deities or evil spirits appear on the summer solstice. Across the globe, the solstice is shrouded in magic and folklore, as it is a day, we celebrate growth, light and prosperity but also the beginning of the end, as the northern hemisphere moves towards the looming darkness once more.

Inspired by the enchanted tales that surround the solstice, we have created a myth about our own mechanical creature that appears on the solstice.

Midsummer myth

“For all Earths animals, nothing is so fundamental as the sun. Its light and warmth cultivate growth and prosperity. A folk tale speaks of another creature who relies on the sun to survive; it has many names and is known across the globe.

This creature lives in the upside-down, a magical place where everything is not as it seems. Every summer on the longest day of the year, the creature stretches out its talons seeking food. Breaking the surface, these talons absorb light through coloured petals; tiny chloroplasts in the petals turn light into energy.

It creates so much energy that on a clear night you can see it evaporating through holes she has made in the surface. As shorter days return and the cold creeps in, the creature retreats to the upside-down; it has made enough food to survive below for ten months.

Many believed this creature lay dormant. Its petals have not been seen for over a thousand years, but there have been whispers in London it will return on the solstice once more.”

Like many myths we wanted our sculpture to be experienced as one long tale where our audience is the protagonist going on a journey of discovery within the Crossrail gardens.

Site Exploration

The location of our installation is important for our project as we are interested in conveying a theatrical storey; our chosen site needs to allow the build-up of atmosphere and take audiences on a journey of discovery to our mechanical creature.

Crossrail gardens

We chose the location of the Crossrail gardens due to its tranquil contrast to the glass facades of Canary Wharf’s glass buildings and busy offices.

We will incorporate lighting and sound throughout the garden, where daytime focus on the natural reflections of the sun light, that turns more and more abstract and eerie throughout the evening using artificial lighting and haze and at night the shadows will start to shift our perception of the personality of the creature.

Audience Journey

Intention - Animacy

Our project seeks to explore an aesthetic experience of a machine, with a focus on the observers’ experience of the piece and the behaviours that emerge between the audience and the machine. We want to explore the embodied perception of our creature and how the audience reads animacy into simple movements in a machine.

Building on our exploration of character and storytelling with our sculpture through the movement of it, we would like to question: what is the minimum level of information our brains need in order to read human traits into simple shapes and objects and how to trigger the notion of life?

Sketches Ideas

Abstracting Behavior

We started our design by looking at primitive shapes and continuously abstracted the shapes to explore the animacy that could be embodied in the movement of minimised forms. 

We experimented using C4D thinking about how this creature would move, would it rise and take in the sunshine, retreat to a breathing state at night, cover itself from the rain, be curious about people in the Crossrail Gardens?  

Early Puppetry Experiments

Early Mechanism Experiments

Materiality and reflections


Development - mechanism exploration

Senses and bahaviours

Structuring a system within the creature to create an internal feedback loop that organises its behaviours and interactions. In doing so, we aim to set basic mechanisms for its operation.

Drawing upon the idea of “labour division” of social animals, the creature is divided into 4 groups based on their heights, and the senses are also categorised into three. 

Through further exploration in this area, we would also like to propose structuring parallel systems among groups that could guide the output behaviour for us to test later.

Interactivity - Audience

Development plan

ollage examining Canary Wharf and audience segmentation from Arts Council England

Interaction with an audience is central to creating emergent behaviour in our creature. We need to gain an understanding of the audiences that visit the Crossrail Place Gardens. This will help us build audience profiles and hypothesises on how they might interact with our installation.


The diagram below explores the types of audeinces we believe will be present on a summers day at the Crossrail Place Roof Garden. These initial predictions are based on site visits and spending time in the gardens throughout the day this spring.

Who are they

To build some audience profiles, we have explored Art Council England’s Audience spectrum tool, a segmentation tool developed by The Audience Agency. Audience Spectrum segments the whole UK population by their attitudes towards culture, and by what they like to see and do, there are 10 different profiles:


Prosperous, liberal, urbanites interested in a very wide cultural spectrum
Commuterland Culturebuffs

Affluent and professional consumers of culture
Experience Seekers

Highly active, diverse, social and ambitious, engaging with arts on a regular basis
Dormitory Dependables

Suburban and small towns interest in heritage activities and mainstream arts
Kaleidoscope Creativity

Mixed-age, low-level engagement, free local events, outdoor arts and festivals
Trips and Treats

Mainstream arts and popular culture influenced by children, family and friends
Home and Heritage

Rural areas and small town, day-time activities and historical events
Up Our Street

Modest in habits and means, popular arts, entertainment and museums
Facebook Families

Younger suburban and semi-urban, live music, eating out and pantomime

Older, less engaged, crafts, knitting, painting, sheltered housing, church or library


During the day our creature is feeding off the sun, casting pretty calming reflections around itself. The nearby bench where the white-collar regulars enjoy their lunch our creature finds them particularly interesting.

As we make our way into the afternoon our mechanical creature has now recharged and is fully engaging with every little input from its surroundings and reacts rapidly and playfully to the visitors, children, and adults. As the summer evening slowly grows darker the creature starts having a soundscape that slowly becomes more and more abstract and odd, and slowly weird shadows are starting to grow.

At night our creature is asleep, peacefully but eerie and quietly breathing as artificial lighting surrounds it, the entire garden is lit in blues and vertigo green. Within our creature, it has a central light source, like a beating ET heart. Throughout the sculpture, little plumes of haze are seeping from the ground and a constant soundscape surrounds the visitors, reflecting and morphing the sounds the audience makes into itself until tension builds and our creature awakens. Annoyingly, a head will raise, harsh sharp shadows will distort the peaceful image, before the creature once again settle in its slumber.


Maybe it appears in front of the Tate Modern along the Millenium Bridge; or Maybe it inhabits a space by the Opera House Foyer, responding to the activity going on inside the building...

Due to our project being in a modular shape we are curious that it gets life in other places than the canary wharf summer lights festival and that our mythical creature can grow and develop around the UK.

Sustainability - Our practice

Sustainable practices can be overlooked in the temporary installation industry; therefore, we believe it is imperative to address the challenges of designing sustainably within our project.

Our initial research led us to think of our installation as part of a Circular Economy. We have investigated circular design principles used in product design and applied them to our installation. The results of our investigations focused on the life-cycle of the materials and technology used in our installation.

Circular Design

A ‘Circular Economy’ works on the principle that there is no waste. In theory, materials are cycled indefinitely; therefore, a CE is working towards a closed loop. For our design to mimic a closed-loop system, from a material flow perspective, resources used within the design have to remain accounted for at all times: before, during and after their lifetime as ‘useful products’ in our installation (den Hollander et al.,2017).


Duration of each new application of the product/ resource.  

Duration when a product is released until it becomes obsolete beyond repair.

Aims to reverse obsolescence of products/ resources.

Materials can have more than one use-cycle but only one lifetime, as long as a product or resource’s obsolescence can be reversed a new cycle can begin.

Product Integrity

Circular design focuses on two principles; designing for integrity and designing for recycling. Each strategy aims to prevent or reverse obsolescence. A product becomes obsolete if it is no longer considered useful or significant by its user (Burns 2010).

When designing for recycling, materials that do not have a new use cycle will need to be recycled as efficiently and effectively as possible to be looped back into the economic system. When designing for integrity, products need to have high physical and emotional durability. Construction processes need to be well thought out to create elements that are easy to repair or refurbish. Integrity will prolong the products use cycle and extend its lifetime (den Hollander et al.,2017).

In a circular economy, there is no waste; in reality, there will always be dissipative losses. Hollender et.,al (2017) define this as leakage where ‘products or their components/materials that flow from the circular economic system to the biosphere’.

Our Sustainable Manifesto

Our research into circular design principles has prompted us to create a manifesto that lays out our vision for the life-cycle of the materials and technologies used to produce our installation. We intend for our manifesto to develop and strengthen in line with future prototyping. 

We have researched the below organisations, and where appropriate engaged in a dialogue regarding our sustainable manifesto. All organisations are willing to work with us to achieve our circular practice goals.