Video still for The things that made us: A tech run with no tech Performers Nikki Jewitt and Ju Row Farr

In 1992 we made Chemical Wedding, our second piece of work. David Hughes – a believer in Blast Theory from the get go and editor of Hybrid Magazine – gave us the chance to do a work-in-progress in Holborn with an invited test audience. But we couldn’t afford to make all of the films that would be projected onto screens throughout the show and didn’t know how to deal with a very media-heavy work without the material to show. So, we decided to narrate live in real time what we knew would be on the screens at some point in the future.

We spoke as if the edited images were present, timed to last as long as they would be on screen, with the tone and atmosphere we felt they would evoke. The screens were hanging newsprint and as it was a promenade piece, we moved the audience around throughout as would happen in the finished work.

Matt described on a mic what people would be seeing on the screens even though there was nothing there. People loved it! And it feels to me now similar to the way fiction allows us to create pictures in our heads – we fill in the gaps, we populate the spaces. It felt reckless and brave, it was the right decision. And it allowed the power of imagination to take hold in whichever way each of our minds work.

I always know there is another way and that technology isn’t always the only option. Our experience with Chemical Wedding definitely helped inform the way we always look for the ‘low tech or no tech’ in every work we make, even though that might not always be apparent. It made us interrogate the need for something to be present in a work: everything has to justify its place. And in everything that we make there is rarely a moment where all the elements are in the room all together, all the way through the process, so being able to adapt and take big risks always has to be on the table. Still very proud!

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