Cryptic in conjunction with the European Championships 2018 have made the Clyde Tunnel a conversation starter for the summer, and certainly a more appealing and stimulating walkway for pedestrians. Somewhat of an audiovisual journey, using both the work of multimedia artist Robbie Thomson and composer Alex Menzies, the 762 metre-long walkway of the Clyde Tunnel has been transformed into a sensory spectacle but not the spectacle we were expecting.
Inspired by marine mythology and science fiction, we are witness to robotic sculptures and electronic sounds which are made out to lead you through a series of close encounters, but this claustrophobic, eerie attempt of this installation is not quite there. Immersive and intriguing yes, Portal certainly allows us to do something that has never been done before, we have reason for walking through a dark and dingy tunnel, one in need of some work, when you realise the cracks and the holes. However, for something that is intended to celebrate the 55th anniversary year of the landmark, as part of the cultural programme of the European Championships 2018, it is pretty anticlimactic. Perhaps there should be more of the mystical lighting or more of the robotics, or perhaps they should do something more than just shudder but there is something lacking. Or perhaps it is the thorough health and safety spiel which is given before we enter that heightens our expectations, but I could not help but walk away thinking it was not quite complete.
However, it is true in the sense that it does provide an immersive experience, which plays with your visual and aural senses but the lead up to entering the tunnels alludes to it being more than what it is, and perhaps the expectation needs to be lessened for the enjoyment factor to kick in. It is after all, we realised, an excuse to walk through this landmark, something that neither of us had ever done. Also, the robotics are interesting, some of the robots used in the event respond to the movement of audience members, which is curious to witness. It’s worth the wonder but just don’t venture in the enclosed space with the expectation they gear you up with.