Talking through some images I’ve used recently on the ‘New Blood’ project led me to pull a few things together from ‘OVO’ back in 2000.
I wasn’t expecting my day to go the way it did. What sticks in my mind is being asked “Are you afraid of heights?” as I arrived at The Millennium Dome. Luckily there wasn’t really time to consider a response. I was strapped into climbing gear and given to understand that should I drop anything - I was carrying both video and stills equipment - it would most likely kill someone below, and should I fall, I would have several seconds to consider my mistake before I hit the ground.
“The Nest That Sailed the Sky” on the Play DVD video collection may be the most beautiful video I’ve ever seen.” Steve Guttenberg talking to Peter Gabriel
This work around ‘OVO The Millennium Show” at The Millennium Dome in London was an important moment for me. Technology in the form of DV cameras and the all important Firewire port on the G3 Mac were both at my disposal along with After Effects and Photoshop and a need for content around Peter Gabriel’s show at the centre of London’s Millennium celebrations gave me unusual access and opportunity.
The work I produced at The Dome was truly a result of the constraints categorised by Peter as “producing interesting experiments whilst staying on a reasonable budget” which largely meant slow optics and limited cameras - basically me with the XL1 for video and a Canon EOS 600 with f4.5 glass for the stills. What I did have was an unusual freedom to come up with interesting solutions and the ability to control the process all the way from viewfinder to delivery. There was also of course the pressure of trying to create something that could stand up in the exalted company of the strong visual work Peter and Real World were known for.
I’d had images published and used in various ways, but I think this was the first time one made the cover of an album, and that shot has a continued life as an print in the quite wonderful company of the Peter Gabriel collection at Hypergallery. To get both that and a video out out of a day’s excursion set a pattern I still try to follow.
Echoes of some of the decisions I took on that day can still be seen in more recent work like that around the ‘New Blood’ interface. It’s one of the occasions that stands out, if I ever begin to consider fears and think for a moment of putting them ahead of experience, I just have to remember the rewards that came from climbing to the top of the dome - although it has to be said it’s easier when the people around you are as good at what they do as those that guided me through that day. It seemed to be a strange existence, lounging in a hammock whilst waiting to leap and dance on elastic cords above the heads of the audience several times a day - it took a lot of amazing people to bring the show to life and to somehow get me to a place where I could look down at the magical space below.
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