Marcel Broodthaers, The Visual Tower (La Tour Visuelle), 1966

This work is made of mass-produced units: glass jars, wooden discs and photographic reproductions of an eye from a cosmetics advert. The artist’s use of these materials reflects the impact of the 1960s, when many artists made use of images from the mass media and advertising in their work.

The sculpture opens up a range of questions about current issues including community surveillance, and identity and desire in consumer culture. These ideas and others will be explored in the Parallel Lives 2 project. Find out more about Broodthaers' The Visual Tower in our Online Collection.

Who we are and where we live

Group 1’s participants come from the Leith area of Edinburgh. The project was based at the Drill Hall in Dalmeny Street, home of our partners, the Out of The Blue Arts & Education Trust.

Leith has a strong community identity but it is also the site of major changes in terms of business and residential developments related to the waterfront. This redevelopment produces challenges but also a vibrant street life which reflects the diverse groups and life experiences that make up the local community.

Participants came from a wide cross section of the public from Leith area and from the following groups and organisations:

Pilmeny Development Project
Pilmeny Youth Service
Stepping Stones
Leith Academy Adult Education Animation Class


What we have done

November 2008
The finished work, Tower of Leith, is exhibited in the Vulcan Room of The Dean Gallery, is made up of 100 fake iPods, dismantled and welded onto a copper frame. Contributors took part in workshops run by National Galleries of Scotland's Outreach Department or made short films using their own mobile phones or cameras.

Tower of Leith tests the power of digital media to truly represent the views of local people. This project probed the easy accessibility of video, and the creative potential of social networking sites, to form a contemporary representation of a changing community.

September 2008
You could take part in the project by visiting Leith and making a short film on your mobile phone or camera. The content of the film was entirely up to individuals, although there was to be some connection to Leith. It could be images of the tram works, a favourite shop, the park or the people you know. The film could be as long or as short as you liked and participants could submit more than one film.

Participants were asked to concentrate on the visual elements, i.e. what you find interesting to look at. For more details and ideas films they could visit

July 2008
Participants could come along to one of the workshops or they submit a film you have already made on your own camera or phone. Gavin Lockhart was in ‘residence’ at Out of the Blue on the following in July, working to gather and produce all the films needed for the sculpture.

June 2008
The artists selected for Group 1 project will uses Broodthaer's Visual Tower to elicit responses from young people, older people, migrant communities and other local residents to the challenges of living in a mixed community undergoing change.  The project used this thought provoking artwork as a starting point for participants to present their views on how people interact to a wider audience.