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Commuter - Trains
An installation by Rob Godfrey

There are nine 'trains' in Commuter and each is moving constantly up and down the installation, taking whatever route is available to get from one end to the other. There are 178 route combinations. Each train is either four or six carriages long and represents an emotional aspect of life, as follows: Joy, Sorrow, Birth, Sex, Art, Illness, Animals, Love, War. Love and War are six carriages long to represent these two strongest emotions; all the other trains are four carriages long. The trains have an individual colour and each train has sounds eminating from it to match its theme/emotion. The large size of Commuter allows these sounds to be clearly heard at different points along the installation. This effect would be lost if a smaller scale model was used. Click on the words below for sound samples (these are mp3 files and will open in your media player):

JOY      SORROW      BIRTH      SEX      ART      ILLNESS      ANIMALS      LOVE      WAR


Train Simulations

The simulations on this web site were produced using Rail3D. These simulations show only the trackwork and trains, not the rest of Commuter's structure, and are designed to model traffic flow. They were originally Adobe flash video (FLV) presentations. However, Adobe Flash no longer works on modern browsers. They have now been converted to mp4 files, which should work in most browsers. Click on the play buttons to start the simulations. If you encounter viewing problems try refreshing the page a number of times.

an interactive artwork
The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster.
Oscar Wilde

Each train carries a set of sensors which can detect temperature, light, motion, moisture, vibration, air pressure and sound. Each train's personality is reflected in the way they react to this sensory data. Thus, if it's very cold some of the trains might start sneezing; whereas War of course would react with pleasure.

If a spectator gets too close to Commuter the trains might start to boo and hiss. If Commuter is being displayed outdoors and it starts raining perhaps the trains will go into a rendition of Singing In The Rain. As well as allowing spectators to interact with the installation, the nine trains/emotions also form an integral part of the attempt to give Commuter consciousness.

The trains also have lighting effects. Each carriage body is made of translucent, injection moulded plastic, with a colour to match each train's theme. The carriage lighting is digitally controlled and will fade and brighten and go on and off in line with a train's mood at the time.

The translucent plastic carriage bodies are designed to sit on the carriage frames and can be easily lifted off for maintainence purposes. The plastic bodies make the carriages completely waterproof. The carriages are 457mm / 18" long, which at full scale is 64 feet, a standard size commuter carriage as used by the Southern Railway Company on trains serving Charing Cross Station - click here for photos.

x.   Westminster Sunset

This city is a fist, a sum
of storeys (knuckles bruise the sky);
its sores now soaked in sodium,
its roar drowns out the swallows sly
retreat. The Standard wires cry
where tumourous foundations criss-
cross caged clay and rodents shy
away. Terry and Julie kiss
amidst the rushing hours hiss
the scurry wags a question there:
perhaps there's more to life than this?
Fingers uncurl a circus fair;
beside Big Ben they see and feel
a trippy, turning hamster wheel.
Each of the nine trains has a rake of carriages which are permanently joined together. This is in the manner of Southern Railway EMUs (Electric Multiple Units) which began being widely used in the 1930s on London suburban routes. EMUs are designed for high density commuter services. There is no locomotive. An EMU consists of one motor car with trailer cars and can be driven from either end. Commuter's model trains are 1825mm long (6 feet) for the four carriage rakes, and 2750mm long (9 feet) for the six carriage rakes.

The nine trains contain a total of 40 carriages. All the carriages are handbuilt, with the exception of the bogies. There are 2 bogies on each carriage, giving 80 bogies in total. Each of the nine trains has one motorised bogie.

Next Page - Nerves

JOY      SORROW      BIRTH      SEX      ART      ILLNESS      ANIMALS      LOVE      WAR

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