‘Ocean Terminal Britannia’


‘Ocean Terminal Britannia
– electronic (video & audio), duration: 4mins 25secs

Description of work:

Ocean Terminal is a shopping mall on the North East coast of Edinburgh, the Royal Yatch Britannia is permanently moored there as a draw for tourists. OTB is a response to the environment of the mall and the experience of visiting. The mall space is vast and enveloping, the visitor can instantly be transported into a cocooned world of consumerism and entertainment. At no point is the outside environment allowed to enter the space. Objectivity and a sense of human scale are impossible to maintain, the visitor has no choice but to succumb, the feeling is one of over-all numbness and a condition of being institutionalised. This perspective is furthered cemented when visiting the Royal Yatch Britannia. The Britannia has been converted into a floating museum to a royal lifestyle now vanished. Whilst operational, the entire focus of the crew of Britannia was to ensure the royal family could relax in a very opulent and cossetted environment. The accompanying audio guide is peppered with anecdotes of royal whims and protocol that preserved the privileged existence of the royals whilst on board Britannia, such as staff having to avert their eyes and remain absolutely motionless if a royal passed them on the sun deck so as not to disturb their relaxation.

It seems ironic that today, visitors pay a relatively high entrance price to stare through protective perspex screens into the Queens chambers, the Royal Banquet rooms and to wander around the expansive sun deck and experience a glimpse into a disappeared world of royal status and privilege maintained predominantly by the public purse for many years when the only entrance price was to be a world figure of status and power worthy of royal engagement.