The official giggled as she listened to a colleagues voice in her earpiece. Her duty for the day was to accompany Nick Knight around Stanstead Airport as he photographed Linda Evangelista for Vogue. The men in the control room want to ask Linda to do that again, she told them. As soon as she said it, Knight realised that wherever they had gone in the airport, the men in the control room had been watching and listening in. After that, he says, 'I started looking out for surveillance cameras and realised they were everywhere. I became interested in the idea of surveillance, and the idea that we're being watched all the time.'
Knight played with the theme in another Vogue shoot by casting Kate Moss as this ordinary New York working girl doing ordinary things like leaving the office and travelling home, then photographing her as if she had been caught on surveillance cameras. 'When I'd finished the shoot I realised it would be more interesting on film. But I couldn't make it work at the time so I sat on the idea.'
Now, Knight has revived the idea in Diamonds. It's a film taken from one Madison Avenue office building looking down at another. You know, those black glass New York buildings which become big black mirrors at night. You can see the lights, the street, people pouring off busses, and you hear the noise that's so distinctive of New York. One window is lit up and, when you look through it, you see Kate Moss talking on the phone. And you hear her telling this great story to the artist, Sarah Morris, about Johnny Depp and a diamond necklace.
I like the idea of having someone so well known on display. Kate is an icon of our times, but there she is - clearly visible - in a public building. And because she is on the phone, you have the idea that you're watching Kate without her permission. There's this odd surveillance quality to the piece, but it's also very glamorous; because Kate is so beautiful and when those Madison Avenue buildings are lit up at night, the reflections on the glass glisten like diamonds.
Emily Dinsdale writes about art, architecture and fashion.