My journey into the ‘Wibbly-Wobbly-World-of-web-artistry’, first began in 1995 in Angel Islington, having gained a place on a multimedia training course at ARTEC, founded by Frank Boyd and funded by the European Social fund. There were only 12 places, each with one’s own designated work station and an Apple computer. A three month internship was required to complete the course, which I organised with a dot com start up company named ‘Obsolete‘, as I already knew one of the co-founders, James Stevens, from The Exploding Cinema events held in London during the early 1990’s. Obsolete originally shared a floor with Ninja Tunes in Clink St., Winchester Wharf, next to the River Thames. However, as Obsolete rapidly expanded they moved into a bigger studio of their own on the floor below. The ‘Back Space‘ cyber cafe followed shortly on the ground floor and the building had a lovely atmosphere, buzzing with creativity. There were many studios filled with interesting people and creative music | design | web projects, but sadly the building was sold to developers who turned it into apartments. The cyber cafe became a Starbucks and the ground floor studio became a tourist souvenir shop.
However, what is important to recognise is that 1995 was a particular time in our developmental history when many people considered the ‘internet’ to be a ‘passing fad‘ and that having an email address was a total waste of time.
Today however, an email address is absolutely essential and a website, or a social media presence is pretty much a standard requirement, with the internet having been fully integrated into every aspect of daily life, to the extent that we are either; completely dependent upon it, or addicted to it! We now rely upon the internet for practically everything from online banking, paying bills, watching movies, business meetings, University classes, not to mention the explosion of social media and the narcissist gaze of self gratification.
But back in 1995 it was still a relatively innocent period of time with an absence of mobile phones and smart tech. There were only one or two internet cafes dotted around, known then as cyber cafes, (such as ‘SubCyberia‘ and Global Cafe in Soho), but for the creative visionaries of the time, the World Wide Web was considered new and exciting! It was a format that held the potential for a new kind of artistic expression which had never previously existed before. Websites were built using raw html code and animations were created using server pushes.
At the time I was inspired and motivated to discover how to utilise technology to articulate creative expression. ARTEC, Obsolete and AL Digital assisted me to develop and host the first ever Catalyst website, whereupon I was able to stage 24 hour live webcasts from cyber venues, including London’s Global Cafe (in Golden Square, Soho) and ‘The Hub‘ Cafe in Brisbane, Australia, to promote environmental awareness and communal cohesion.
The Catalyst website also became an incubator for my own ideas that decades later would evolve into ‘iPoem’s Blog‘ and later into a book of modern verse.
An archived version of the first ever 1996 Catalyst web site, formerly hosted by ‘AL Digital’, can be viewed >>HERE<< The images and animations are hyperlinks to the other pages to discover. It has been archived in an unusual way therefore, in order to get to Catalyst home page and the Wibbly-Wobbly-World of Web Artistry, first click on the animated lava lamps, then click on the name ‘Cat’ and scroll down to click on the animated dancing men at the bottom.
All the animated gifs and artwork below were created in 1995 and 1996 specifically for the Catalyst website and curated events, and are the property of Cat Catalyst © 2021.
A collection of fliers from previous Catalyst events held in London, Sydney and Brisbane between 1991 – 2017
[NB: Please use the slider to scroll through the highlights] ABOVE: Rare unedited behind-the-scenes footage (shot by Chaz whose last name I never knew) of the day-long setting-up of ‘Catalyst IV – The Recycled Experience’. The event took place on Saturday 30th October 1993. It occupied two floors of ‘The Vox’, London, SW9, UK.
On this particular night more people turned up to take part than had originally confirmed, therefore, another two warehouse rooms, (which had been closed off), had to be opened up to accommodate the extra participants and their equipment. One room, which was full of props and stuff was used as a back-stage prep area for the models and fashion designers, and the other was used as a live sound room, largely for ‘Echo City’ whom had a very large sound installation structure, which was a part of their performance and served as a structure that could be interacted with by the audience afterwards..
The downside was that this room was without electricity or lighting. However, luckily, by the time the event was due to open, ‘Offshore State Circus’ and their team had run cables, hoisted lighting rigs, connected decks, freshly painted banners and miraculously transformed this room into a fully operational live music venue. (With grateful thanks).
This unedited footage documents the London youth culture of the 1990’s, and the transformation of an empty shell into a unique sell-out night, with fly-on-the-wall glimpses of back-stage fashion changes, models hair-and-make-up, band sound checks, DJ’s in-the-mix, the famous Fungus-Mungus Cafe, a Giro-scope, and much much more.
Again 1993 was a time long before the advent of digital media, mobile phones, phone cameras, texts, internet, email, social media, net flicks or prime. In those days there were only three TV channels: BBC1, BBC2, ITV, (with no Channel 4 yet) so at the time events like these were unique and involved entire communities coming together to collaborate.
I would like to extend grateful thanks and apprecaition to all the participants and contributors who made this event so successful: The Vox, Micheal Johnson, The Emperors New Clothes, Echo City, The Co-Creators, Heather Beverley, The Grateful-Dub, Bongo and Offshore of Offshore State Circus and family, Pronoia, Fungus Mungus, The Bagel Odeon, Sweetie, The Pumphouse, Ama Surplus, Spot-Co Lighting, Rodger Patron, Eddie Love Chocolate, Conscious Earthwear, Catweasle Recycled Clothing, Pacific Warriors, Roast-Chicken-in-Dub, Gerry Rooney, Alexandra of Alexina Fashion, ReclaimNation Hats, Daryl Black, Headrush Gyroscope, Banners from Jerome of Planet Magazine, Emsee projections, Zeke Manyika, Rolo McGinty, Sanke, Ian Tregonning, Colette Meury, Gary Beelders, Chaz, and many more.
If anyone has any photos from any of the above events to put on this page I would dearly love to see them as this was before the age of phone-cameras and digital photography. It was still 35mm negative film which required developing.
More unedited fly-on-the-wall-footage can be seen here: https://youtu.be/VekP5xXREK8 with my mum just glimpse-able back stage, wearing a purple Parker.