I was introduced to the Specials Lab through an artist agency called Musa, who represent me on a non- exclusive basis.
The client had been attracted by an installation piece of mine which I call 'Gesthalt'. In this piece there are four large prints facing each other, which define a space where a simple tower sits in the middle, playing out four videos back into the space. They liked the idea of the tower for their large reception area and thought it might be a whizz bang idea to have something like it to entertain their waiting clients. I'm not sure how much they considered what the content might be, but I was happy to talk through possibilities.
Now there are only good clients in my books. Some are just a bit more demanding than others, but generally speaking I am always soooooo glad to have some interest from anyone who thinks commissioning art is a good idea. It has to be said they appear to be a somewhat wonderful client so far.
Ok there was a hiccup at first.
You see there was a potential dream scenario. I have this recently completed piece 'Gesthalt' which has taken me all of three years to complete, and was keen to find somewhere to put it on. It was suggested that it might be a great idea to do two things. First show Gesthalt for a few weeks and make a bit of a splash with an opening and a bit of press, then, following that, have me make another piece to play out on the video tower that would already have been constructed for that installation. This would then be left as a permanent fixture on which to play my new piece and would take their business as the starting point for subject matter. Nice idea.
All seemed swimmingly super and wheels started turning. At this point budget seemed of secondary importance and various bods went off to look at the options of building four temporary walls in the middle of their space as per my plan. Time passed and various meetings took place. Tradesmen came on site and scratched their heads. Then sent quotes. Communications became less frequent and it began creeping so close to their proposed show date that I began doubting whether publicity could be mustered in time. We did in fact have a number of good sponsors lined up, including printers and a PR company to give the things a bit of a push. I waited.
So you've guessed the outcome by now.
Gradually the key person is 'somewhere else' or 'off today' etc. And then the final call that says.. 'so sorry but it was just coming in too expensive so we've had to pull out'.
At this point I have to say that I am very happy to work with corporates, because they can have a less academic and a more 'real world' approach to the how and whys of putting things together. I'm quite happy to handle the conceptual bit if they can oil the wheels they're familiar with. Fact is that if I had organised it I could have made it all happen within a fixed budget and cut my cloth accordingly. Somewhere along the lines of communication, what was possible and what was realistic got mixed up. It was a shame, and leaves me still looking for a good place to show what I consider to be a very important installation.. anyone out there?????
The good news
At least the original commission was still on the table, and, glad to say, that is now going ahead.
It was decided between us that, as this piece is to be situated in the middle of their open-plan office space, that two things would be a consideration. One that any audio should be listened to through headphones, and two, that there be the possibility of changing the work so that those working in the office could have a little variety.
I decide that the best way to approach this was to make a piece that effectively had eight 'movements' rather like a musical score. Four of these would play out at one time, whilst another four would be constructed to be shown separately. I'm not sure yet but it may even be that the completed piece will have any number of permutations.
There is one thing I have stressed from the start. Whatever the piece becomes, it will never be a corporate video, and from the outset I wanted the experience of working within Specials Lab to be a two way process. It will inevitably follow on from the concerns of my previous work, but I didn't want to have a fixed plan on going in there. I wanted it to grow. I want the piece to inform itself, with me as the cultural chemist.