My first ever attempt at creating public art was not a painting but a video installation. Although the poor folk who experienced my first public foray into the artistic world will more likely recall it as an endurance test. There can't be too many art installations that are deemed successful if people end up passing out and throwing up!
I was in my early twenties and living in Cape Town. I’d always been interested in how an artist can change the way people feel about the space around them. A photographer friend and I came up with an idea of rigging a camera into the back of his Alpha Spider and filming as we drove around the City and up and down every multi-storey car park in Cape Town.
It was back in the days of VHS and tape, so after we’d filmed our outdoor footage, we played the tape in fast-forward mode onto a TV and filmed the screen with a red filter over the camera lens. We took that film and put it into the VHS player on fast-forward, filming the screen again. We repeated the process over and over until we had this constant movement and spiralling.
I had an old VW Combi at the time and we parked it outside the gallery, blacked out the windows, put a ladder across the two front seats and put a big TV on it with a video player underneath.
I made tickets and everybody in the gallery queued up outside the van. The first few people were just intrigued by what they might see but after I opened the door and they fell out in a crumpled heap, the others just wanted to know what on earth was going on.
I’d put them in the van, press play on the video player and shut the door. It was as hot as hell in there and this video would be playing on fast-forward, constant movement going up and down every multi-storey in Cape Town. To ramp up the experience even more, I had Kodō drumming blasting out of the stereo. It was a total assault on the senses.
I’d open the door and they’d basically fall out. People were almost passing out with the constant movement, the pounding music and the heat. It was something that I had created that was causing this reaction. It was brilliant. It was addictive.
Although it's a world away from my artistic life now, I'd like to think that I still retain that sense of pushing boundaries. That art shouldn't be about hard and fast rules and that no-one should tell you what is or isn't art.
The creative chaos may be more contained these days but I still have a soft spot for a VW Combi.