Yesterday was a very productive day for when was NOW.

I had almost forgotten, but one of the reasons I was jolted back into my on-going hunt for NOW, was because of a particular event that took place about 10years ago. It was the day the world went slow.

Not to be too dramatic about this, but it was probably the closest I have come to death in recent years. I was cycling to work in rush hour traffic one morning and whilst moving briskly with the flow of vehicles, found myself unexpectedly confronted by a double decker bus coming the wrong way round the roundabout. On with the brakes and, well, straight over the handlebars I went. Head met tarmac and seemed to be glued to the ground as I lay there, all too aware that the big rubber tyre of the bus’s front wheel was about to roll over my head. You hear all kinds of stories about these types of situation – all I can say is that my life did not flash before my eyes, but that time went very slowly and that I experienced a profound sense of calm – like I was at the centre of a hurricane. Time really did tick by – nano second by nano second.

This story obviously has a happy ending as I’m here writing this. Tyre touched cranium but nothing more – coming to rest against my head. A broken arm and not too much else. A much better result than might be expected .

I recount this to explain that yesterday I decided to do that journey again, but this time film it with a video camera strapped onto my handlebars. I shot the journey 1 frame per second, so on playback it rattles through the screen at a rate of knots. This will be the opening sequence to when was NOW. Its relevance is in the fact that my concern for what constitutes ‘nowness’ seemed to stem from this accident. I didn’t exactly realise it at the time, but looking back it was definitely the defining moment.

Later the same day I shot another sequence. I’m not sure exactly how this fits in but I know it will. I had been fishing around the official NASA website a couple of weeks ago and downloaded a video clip that I knew I would use. It is of a Russian cosmonaut cutting his hair with electric clippers whilst in the gravity free interior of the orbiting space station. It is such a human, domestic type of activity that I feel it will cut (excuse the pun) well with my own ‘at home’ type footage. I want to somehow mix my domestic life up with material that is ‘big public domain’ – material that is of global interest rather than small domestic. Funny thing is that that the cosmonaut looks remarkably like me from the back… so I set to work clipping my own hair – which also, sadly, is in a similar state of recession!


It has been a long time coming. Well the first version of this video was made erm… 30 years ago now. So obviously a lot of stuff has happened since. Some time ago I rediscovered my ‘when was NOW’ video on a ¾ inch u-matic video reel and had it transferred to digital format so I could ponder it more easily. I wasn’t so interested in much of it, except for the fact that a. I still seemed to be pursuing the same concerns in my work after all these years and b. there was the novelty of a much younger ‘me’ apparent on screen – clicking his fingers in an attempt to stop time NOW and then again NOW etc. There is an obvious irony here as he stared back at me over time.

So… four years ago I decided to make version 2 and use this distant character as a little insert into my present day work. I liked the idea that I might put the two of us on screen at the same time. I devised a whole ‘conceptually sound’ structure that was to make this happen and could almost see the finished piece in my mind’s eye. As it turned out – the sheer predictability of this (in my own head anyway) kind of meant I kept putting it the bottom of my list of things to do. It didn’t have the urgency of some other ideas.

Eventually I was amazed to find some more years had slipped by and I hadn’t actually got very far with it.

I decided it was still definitely worth doing, but that I would take a slightly different tack and use my initial idea as a starting point rather than an end in itself. Thus has been born my new found sense of urgency… and it is this that I will try and document in these postings.