This is a paper about different ways of revealing materials, and a theory of organization. It moves through a kaleidoscope of perspectives which reveal the tower crane as made through its relations with a series of different ways of seeing – engineering and mathematics, capitalist economics, and a workplace labour process. It employs a wide variety of sources, including some interviews that I have done with crane drivers. I then move into an account of the modernist fascination with technology, particularly Soviet constructivism. The latter provides the theoretical scaffolding which allows me to see the crane as a temporary stabilization of structure, and structure as an arrangement of planes and lines of force which allows certain moves just as it prevents others. This is a way of saying that an adequate understanding of ‘organization’ requires thinking multiples and relations. Nodding towards Deleuze and Guattari towards the end, I suggest that cranes are good to think with for these multiple purposes, but that any assemblage would do.
- tower cranes