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Gavin Lockhart
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Thurso: Final Show  

Midsummer and equinox 2005

We had ambitions for big outdoor projections but it was getting lighter and lighter. The project needed finishing and spring was moving to summer. We looked at lighting-up times, getting later and later with only a very few hours of twilight to play with. One of our group suggested that, instead of fighting for the dark, we go camping and do our projections in the middle of the night. We all thought this a great idea and planned to sleep under the windmills. Health and Safety proved less navigatable than the Sun and killed that plan. So we re-thought and planned a sleepover in the local youth club, hire a minibus and tour our films around Caithness.

The weekend of midsummer, the epicentre of light, seemed the best challenge and then, when discussing our projection sites, Dounreay became irresistible. Negotiations and negotiations, emails and phone calls, phone calls and emails, an assurance that Dounreay would see what we intended to project, and we had permission. We also got permission from the wind farm and from the owner of the huge de-commissioning facility recently built just outside Thurso. We fancied projecting onto the old cinema, now a club, as the drunken revellers decanted in the middle of the night. This we could not get permission for, it being considered more dangerous than at Dounreay.

So we set up video camp in the youth club with all their equipment and a loud PA and lots of cameras. We had made a start but spent the day capturing images and editing into a projection sequence. Dounreay came to inspect in the evening and were completely seduced by the goldfish swimming around. Everything was oked and by 10pm we were heading for the windmills. The evening was beautiful and by 11pm it was still very bright. The projections were hard to see on the windmills and our appointment at Dounreay at 12.30 meant we had to leave before dark. When we started projecting onto the reactor, the image, which we had filmed earlier that day of the reflected sky in the Thurso River then a stone thrown in, had a spectacular effect. The ripples flowing out from the dome. The night shift ‘ooowed' all over the site and it could be seen for miles. Our group had by this time either run out of tape, batteries or purpose and not much was recorder, they weren’t allowed on site and could only look from miles away. Back into the minibus and off to the giant white building. When it was being built there was a lot of speculation about its purpose and some of the kids in our group laughed about how they had thought it was a new post office. We projected our films and as an encore we covered the building with a film we made earlier of post office signs and then a live portrait of each person involved. Back at the youth club by 3am we made loads of chips and noise for a very long time. Our only disappointment was at the wind farm so we vowed to return on the equinox and project Dounreay onto the windmills having just projected the windmills onto Dounreay.

This we did, on a very very cold and wet night in September. The projector could hardly make it through the rain and although we could see the images, the cameras could hardly see through the rain, a kind of compound rain filter. But we did it. Possibly the most dangerous part was in the queue in the chip shop at 11pm that evening when I ask for chips for a minibus full of people, this had not been risk assessed.

Download a quicktime movie from the Final Show
Midsummer (2Mb)  
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