Dreams of Safety: An Experimental Video Series 

Research Lead: Richard Whitby 

Are there more sustainable, adaptable way to make international and collaborative experimental video projects that engage multiple participants in meaningful exchanges? I have now made four pilot episodes of an online video series called ‘Dreams of Safety’. 

My aim is to work out a way to make experimental videos with other people, as well as about them; interviewing people across the world using simple, cheap and less environmentally impactful methods of online video capture. The intention is for this to grow over time, through speaking to people with vastly different experiences of the Covid 19 pandemic but also other breaks in day-to-day realities. Online projects like Tone Glow have made significant shifts during the Covid years; I am not convinced visual art has kept pace. 

The starting point for the videos is a quote from Nicholas Spice, who wrote in 2020 that ‘Covid 19 has broken out of the ghetto, that place where other people die […] if the capitalist system is to survive, we shall need to go back to our dream of safety, and fast’. What are these ‘dreams of safety’, to which some of us would return? Who is the ‘we’ that the author refers to here? If we are going to embrace a new reality, as the climate crisis dictates, we must grasp what the old safety was like, even if it was only an illusion.  

  • So far I have interviewed a flight attendant based in East Asia, a couple split between China and the UK and a former employee of Madame Tussauds, Delhi, and used their words to build an audio visual context for our conversations. 
  • An episode made with artist Clara Smith explored a method of remote script writing using text messages. 
  • Music became very important to make these more watchable and significant collaborations arose from this aspect. 
  • Although these works have many viewers by visual art standards, the numbers don’t compare well to online content creators’. 
  • Online meeting platforms proved easy and reliable to record and share AV material but required a lot of processing in order to make it interesting to watch. 
  • The series will continue and has led to a new project, now seeking research funding, into international collaborative experimental filmmaking.