The parking meter was invented in 1935 by Carl C. Magee in Oklahoma City and first made an appearance in Dundee in 1961.
The parking meter, ubiquitous to Dundee, is known as the Duncan meter and is the product of American toy company owner Donald Duncan, who other claim to fame is the Duncan Yo-Yo.
When Dick Lemmer, then chief of protection services, arrived in Dundee in 1994 there were approximately one hundred (mostly out of order) parking meters lining the streets of the town. Lemmer was responsible for refurbishing the existing meters and ordering an extra three-hundred second-hand ones from Pietermaritzburg and Vryheid.
Presently one is more likely to find the vintage Duncan selling on e-bay (for around $70) or gathering dust on museum shelves, which makes Dundee a sort of living museum to this glorious (or nefarious, if you happen to be the citizen regularly faced with pink fines slapped across the windscreen) old traffic technology.
With this is mind, we set out to draw attention to the anachronistic meter through a series of improvisations with the Siwela Sonke dancers.
Trawling the streets one evening, the performers dressed in historical costume (designs inspired by our collage characters from previous workshops) and armed with a multitude of LED touch lights, strips of meters were magically, and momentarily, illuminated, serving as impassive partners to our animated dancers.
The following day the editor of local newspaper The Courier reported that he had received a few concerned phone calls from residents enquiring if the intervention had anything to do with Jacob Zuma’s visit to commemorate the battle of Isandhlawana the following day.