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Chain Reaction, TROPE (Carol MacGillivray and Bruno Mathez)

Dates: 25 September – 18 October
Times: Thursday – Sunday, 1pm – 7pm
Location: Kirkaldy Testing Works, Southwark Street, SE1 0JF



TROPE, designers in choreographed time, became artists in residence at the Kirkaldy Testing Works, taking inspiration from the 1874 building made to house the first tensile testing machine in the world. ‘Chain Reaction’ explored the fluid nature of time through action and re-action, in a series of playful, interactive and mechanical artworks. TROPE, working alongside 12 engineers,  developed an audio-visual installation that synthesizes digital and analogue technology to resuscitate and reframe the guts of the museum. Visitors journeyed through an interactive, liminal and immersive world where the basement space of Kirkaldy Testing Works was re-animated in a unique, ghostly ballet.

TROPE blends animation, audio and music with computing, arts and engineering. Their artworks are playful and hybrid, made using an immersive system of concrete animation called the D-Scope® where time is literally choreographed. They created a site-specific interactive kinetic artwork using latest technology and a Grade 2 listed Chain testing machine in the museum.

The artists worked alongside engineering students from City of London University and practicing engineers from Kirkaldy Testing Works.

 ‘Ingenious and captivating, a proper refresh[ment] to our time-lapsed lives’

‘Its as if Alice fell into the depths of the industrial era.’

‘An experience that takes you outside of reality…’
‘Amazing! Totally lost my sense of time playing with this. Hypnotic!’

About the artists:


TROPE is a creative collaboration between contemporary artists Carol MacGillivray and Bruno Mathez. The Anglo-French team celebrates motion as a metaphor for being through breathing life into inanimate objects. The artworks are playful and hybrid, made using an immersive system of concrete animation called the D-Scope® where time is literally choreographed. TROPE create audio-visual, kinetic worlds where an audience can move freely, encountering the art in a synaesthetic and immersive way. These are embodied artworks that cannot be fully comprehended viewed on a computer screen; ‘you have to be there’.


Chain Reaction is supported through the Ingenious Award Scheme of the Royal Academy of Engineering



In an area of Britain not normally renowned for its part in the Industrial Revolution, Kirkaldy Testing Works put Bankside firmly on the map as a historic location for innovative engineering. In 1874 the distinctive Victorian building was specifically built around the Hydraulic Testing Machine to become "Kirkaldy's Testing and Experimenting Works". Proudly declaring above the door “Facts not Opinions”, it was the place where the first breaking point experiments took place on iron and steel to determine their strength. Primarily using Kirkaldy's own patented design of testing machine, this innovative engine pushed materials, through hydraulics, to their limits. Manufacturers sent materials from all over the world, including parts for James Eads 1867 St Louis Bridge over the Mississippi River and parts of the failed Tay Bridge in 1880. The Kirkaldy family ran the business for almost 100 years, and the Works now tells the wider history of materials testing.