May 21, 2015

Am I starting? Have I started? I’ve started….

I think I actually started in 2001, or maybe it was 2002, when I made a short video called ‘You in love? You gonna be’. It was about flirting, the catalyst being catching someone’s eye on the tube, then looking away. I wanted to see if I could test that, prompt the moment and capture it.

I did a number of tests – each one required plucking up courage to stand, with a camera on a tripod, and try and evoke a flirting smile. I needed a space with lots of people, and looking back i chose Greenwich Park, I think because I assumed people there would be amenable. Of course what it actually meant that in the wide open spaces people could very easily give me (and my obvious camera) a very wide berth.

I narrowed it down to the front forecourt of Greenwich tube station (not the Cutty Sark, the quieter one up the road). If positioned at the right angle nearly all the commuters had to pass in front of me, though if determined they could pass behind (I didn’t want to force the interaction). On day 1 I attached a cardboard sign to my camera saying ‘Please smile at the camera’  – very few did. On Day 2 I plucked up the courage to look up from the camera, catch their eye as they entered the forecourt and smile. By the time they hit the spot in front of the camera they were mostly smiling back. Bingo.


Sarah Carne’s This is a Public Service Announcement is taking place during the Festival of Love (6 June – 31 August 2015) at Southbank Centre.

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