It was two days after Christmas in 2009. I was walking around my hometown of Rugby in the UK and getting cold and wet one evening, and thinking about a little-known social network called 12seconds TV. It was the video version of Twitter, long before Vine, Instagram, Facebook Live and the rest. It was ahead of its time by a very long way. This was back in the pre-smartphone days when you had to shoot a video with a video camera, upload it to your machine and then upload it to the relevant site. A pain in the ass. And 12seconds TV died.
What struck me about 12seconds TV though, was its creative potential. I could see all sorts of creative possibilities that could come out of it. Ideas were spinning around in my head. Ways to turn a bunch of unconnected videos from people all over the world, into one cohesive video art piece. To cut a long story short, I came up with the concept of 12seconds for Peace. The idea was to get people from all over the world to send me a video of no more than 12 seconds in length, making a positive statement for peace. These would then form the raw materials for a global video collage. The concept blew me away. I could see in my mind videos from people of different religions, cultures, socioeconomic and political backgrounds, all coming together to say the same thing: all we want is peace.
The only rules were: you must not invoke your own religion as being the way to find peace, and you must not point a finger at anyone as being the reason that there is no peace. It had to be a simple statement of desire for peace in the world.
The response was incredible. I had videos flooding in from all over the world. A farmer in Canada, a little girl being bombed in Gaza, a lawyer in Eastern Europe, a rock musician in Spain, an artist in the United States, a Native American, a mother in the UK. The list was endless and spanned every religion and culture.
And to top it all, I had Julian Lennon, the son of John Lennon (of Beatles fame) supporting the project, along with Bryant McGill, the former Peace Prize Nominee, various rock bands ( including Simon Townshend of The Who, Bibi McGill, the backing guitarist for Beyonce, and others), film-makers, artists, writers…you name it. It seemed like the world wanted to get on board with this little project of mine.
I contacted Peace One Day (the NGO that had single-handedly managed to get every country in the world to sign up to the United Nations International Day of Peace), and they were on board also.
The project was steaming ahead and creating ripples everywhere. And then it died.
In 2011 and 2012, 12seconds for Peace was set to take the world by storm. Through a subsidiary project called The Global Concert for Peace, I had planned to broadcast the collected videos to the world. The Global Concert for Peace was due to go live on the International Day of Peace, 2013.
It was essentially a music concert and was to go staged at the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Peace One Day had linked it with another concert that they were hosting in Rio de Janeiro on the same day. It was also linked to a possible concert in Alexandria in Egypt, that I was involved in putting together with someone involved in the peace movement in Egypt. So the plan was to have three major cities partying together, across two continents, for peace, at the same time. It would have been one of the biggest musical events in history. We had plans for other cities too, yet to be unrolled.
On the Egyptian side of things, I had already been given the entire Giza Plateau, where the pyramids are located, by the Egyptian government. I had free flights with Egyptair for all the performers. I had the hotel accommodation provided by the government for free.
I had a top-ranking music producer, Pete Lawrence from the UK, to oversee the music side of things. also involved was British artist Pete Thornley, who’s work involves the projection of images onto the side of very large structures. It was his job to screen the 12seconds for Peace videos onto the side of the pyramids, before, during and after the performances.
And of course, I had bands, music producers, artists, filmmakers, and the press all over me.
So why did it die? The Egyptian Revolution happened. There was no way I could hold a concert for peace in the middle of a country that was at war with itself. The whole thing got put on the shelf. 12seconds for Peace as an independent video Arts project was suffering from a shortage of cash and needed some solid backing and a platform, and the concert, which was to be the platform, was a non-starter.
I still have all of the old videos. And some of them will reduce you to tears. My favourite is of a 6-year-old old girl, who was making her video, asking for peace and reconciliation and love in the world, while the Israelis were bombing Gaza. It’s a truly heart-wrenching video. Maybe these videos can be reused in the rebooted project somehow.
So here we are some years later, in the days of the smartphone and the hashtag. It’s time to relaunch 12seconds for Peace. It might take on a new name. I am thinking right now #afewseconds4peace…or maybe just #secondsforpeace
I am reaching out to some of the former supporters and backers of this project to see if it is possible to move it forward once more. I am under no illusions over what a mammoth task that would be, but it is still a great concept. It’s still a great way of bringing people together around the world under the banner of a collective desire for peace. I would also like it to raise cash for the many refugees that there are in the world. There are so many in the world now. And all that these people want and need is a little peace in their lives and to be treated for what they are: human beings with dignity.
I would also like it to raise cash for the many refugees that there are in the world. There are so many now..it is astonishing. And all these people want and need is a little peace in their lives and to be treated for what they are: human beings with dignity.
It’s a major project, born out of my strong belief that there is always hope. That there is a need for every human being to be doing the right thing, for their own sake, for the sake of others and for the sake of the future.
If you would like to get involved in this project or have any ideas, please do leave a comment or send me a message. I would love to hear from you.
PS. There’s another article about 12seconds for Peace here, that originally appeared in Om Times.