“We’re not waiting for technology; technology is waiting for us”, said Nick Knight, sat between two screens of live twitter feeds quoting sentences that had left his mouth seconds earlier, while his interview was live streamed across the globe. But while most would consider this technologically advanced, Nick has been breaking boundaries for a decade with SHOWstudio.com.
Ten years ago on Saturday 27 November at 7.27pm SHOWstudio.com pushed the button on online fashion. To celebrate the decade spent redefining the medium of the industry, Imran Amed of the Business of Fashion interviewed SHOWstudio.com founder and iconic fashion photographer Nick Knight as part of the ‘Fashion Pioneer’ series on Friday evening at The Hospital Club. As Nick, one of the most revered image-makers of our time spoke candidly about his career, you couldn’t help but be distracted by the bloggers and journalists furiously tweeting every half-remembered, misspelt sentence that sounded like it might fit into 140 characters, broadcast either side of him, posing the question, who grabbed our attention more? Nick, or Nick’s second-hand quotations? Somehow I think the latter would give him more satisfaction.
“Ever since I started photography I wanted to change it”, Nick said. Indeed, if there was one thing to take away from the interview, it’s that Nick is a person who embraces change above all, making the controversial statement, “Photography has killed itself through its lack of ability to redefine itself”. While his photographs are precise and considered, he readily admits that an iPhone or a webcam is just as effective a medium. Through experimental fashion film and moving imagery, SHOWstudio has created a ten-year archive of projects that map the digital advances of the 21st century, from the 2001 project Sleep, capturing models sleeping in a hotel room using a webcam, to the 2009 live screening of Plato’s Atlantis, what was to be Alexander McQueen’s last ever catwalk show. The McQueen streaming was so oversubscribed that it crashed, because Lady Gaga tweeted about it to her one million followers. Of the event Nick commented, “It was one of the worst moments of my life”. But he went on to say that though the stream crashed, the event really opened peoples’ eyes to the potential of online fashion. Subsequently, the BFC and several established designers have started screening their shows online. And such is the copycat effect and supreme reign that SHOWstudio.com possesses.
“Catwalk shows have been the same since the 50s”, he says. A firm believer and pioneer of fashion film, Nick argued that traditional fashion shows are largely redundant now, and can be superseded by fashion film, which designers such as Gareth Pugh have embraced. Though Nick is a keen explorer of technology, he dispels the assumption that a fashion film is a technically complicated medium, “all I need is a camera, a model and one light”. Through SHOWstudio.com, Nick has opened up fashion to a limitless audience, “I hate the way fashion photography is exclusive, it excludes people…I have tried to articulate an alternative”. By putting fashion online, and focusing as much on the process as the outcome, Nick has made fashion accessible to the many, riling against the convention that only the people in the room of a shoot can witness the magic that happens on set. “It’s about the human part” he says, “the interaction with people; that’s the most exciting bit”.
The full interview will be available from 1st December at businessoffashion.com