Peter Gabriel
talks about the new
Real World Multimedia CD-ROM
"Ceremony of Innocence"



"I'd been sent the Griffin and Sabine books and I became intrigued. What was interesting for me was that it was about this fantasy affair - you're not quite sure if it's real or if it's imagined. At the time I was having a sort of telephone relationship with a woman that I hadn't ever met and she actually sent me the books - so there were a lot of parallels for me.

"And then Martha Ladly, who runs our design studio, suggested that we look at it as a multimedia project and so connections were made with Nick Bantock and his publishers and Nick came over and met everyone here and he decided that he liked the set up. We showed him some of Alex Mayhew's work and he really liked it, so we seemed to get a chance to move forward and to try doing something different, which I think is definitely what's resulted."

Q: "What made you decide that this was the right sort of a project for Real World?"

PG: "I think we've always tried to do stuff here that is a little different from the mainstream, that has some depth, humour, emotion, a mixture of influences, particularly where there seems to be atmosphere in visual images and music, and we hope in this project, in the interactivity."

Q: "One of the things that appealed to all of us was the fact that we felt that the story would appeal equally to men and women so one of the things we tried to do was to make something a bit different in this way..."

PG: "Good point."

Q: "Do you think we've achieved that?"

PG: "It seems that a great deal of CD-ROM stuff has really grown out of games, so you have a chase, shoot 'em up, sci-fi, jumping bean sort of aesthetic really, and the aim with Ceremony was to try to do something really different, and we very much wanted to try and create something that would interest women as much as young men. It is an emotional piece with some depth and passion to it, which really presented both sides of a relationship, so you have a strong woman's voice and a strong man's voice and I think the yearning and the searching that we all go through in the early stages of any courtship, any relationship, are beautifully presented in this work."

Q: "I think that Sabine's voice is very assured in the piece and at times the Griffin character is very confused."

PG: "Yeah, I think this is true, that the woman has a self- assurance and a confidence and the man seems to be deteriorating mentally and getting less stable by the episode, so it's an interesting balance."

Q: "I think that with Ceremony of Innocence the team worked really hard to follow Nick's books faithfully and certainly Nick was very involved in that, but they also took the thing and made it into something that had a complete life of its own, don't you think?"

PG: "We were really happy that Nick wanted to get so involved, but he was also willing to let the project evolve to another stage and I think the interactivity - some of the humour and a lot of the corners that now exist in it are very different in feel from the books - and he was happy to give free reign to the team. Alex and Gerrie Villon really, I think, took it to new territory. We have some wonderful people involved too, in the voices; Isabella Rossellini, Paul McGann and Ben Kingsley, and I think that gives it a real anchoring in the characters."

PG: "One of the things that really brought the project to life is the fantastic team we have working here. People like Karolyn Pike and Dan Blore really helped pull this dream into being and gave it a very strong style, particularly in the humour which I think emanates a lot from Alex, and gives this an original feel. You're still involved in the sort of mystery that you may find in some other game CD-ROMs, but you don't have that sort of wit in any other CD-ROM I've ever seen.

When Gerrie and Alex were sitting round with Nick Bantock and his assistant, they were asking Nick who he would ideally imagine should play the characters, if the story was made into a feature film. And as I understand, Nick said that Isabella Rossellini, Paul McGann and Ben Kingsley would be his first three choices, and Gerrie, being Gerrie, managed to track them all down and persuade them to do it. That was a wonderful achievement because we didn't have a huge budget, but I think they were all fans of Nick's work and the characters in the books."

Q: "How do you think Ceremony fits into the mainstream of multimedia products and what makes it stand out from other stuff that's around?"

PG: "I think that it has a quality and a pace of its own. Ceremony is different from everything else I've seen and I think that the humour especially sets it apart. There's a world created within this CD-ROM and you have this sort of timelessness about it which I very much enjoy. In one sense it unrolls in a filmic way and has its own tempo and way of telling you a story, and in another, at each point you have to get involved and explore it and find things for yourself.

Things like, when the fish swims away on one card and you get the trail of stain from the ink on the postcard - there are lots of details like that which I don't think I've seen in any other CD-ROM."

Q: "There's a sense of voyeurism within the interaction - you're opening and reading other people's letters and postcards - did you find that an interesting aspect of the way you navigate through the story?"

PG: "In a way, we all profess to respect other people's privacy, but I don't believe there's a person alive who hasn't read a postcard addressed to someone else, and that's perhaps one of the things about postcards that is interesting, that they're a mixture of private communication and public communication."

Q: "And yet with this you have to actually get inside it - you have to actually interact with it, so that provides another level of involvement with the characters."

PG: "Yeah, there is definitely a voyeuristic element to the appeal of Ceremony, because through the interactivity - you're forced to get involved directly yourself - to get your hands dirty. And you know, the only way you're going to really compete with films, TV, records and books is by getting people involved in an emotional way, in a deep way, so that they get some satisfaction out of being inside a CD-ROM, and I strongly believe that Ceremony of Innocence is a pioneer in this.

Another thing that really separates Ceremony of Innocence is the dramatic content; I mean, apart from the quality of the actors involved, the structure of the story, the plot and the way that the interactivity has been conceived really makes it something different. I think Nick described it as an "electronic theatre of the imagination", and that's a very telling phrase.

Finally - may all your moons be bananas."

Peter Gabriel, in conversation at Real World, April, 1998.



Posted from the RW Electronic Press Kit by Stephen E. DeLong
as part of "Where in the World Are Griffin & Sabine?".