My Technology; `Luddite? No. But I'm not a slave to machines'

Steven Berkoff, playwright, director and performer, enemy of the mobile phone, uses high-tech cameras to record his life
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
MANKIND HAS become a slave to the machine. He wakes up to it - the fax, the answering machine - then in the car there's a mobile phone. We are inundated, saturated. Ultimately, man has become an appendage to machines.

The only machine I really depend on is a camera. I can't do without it. I use a really nice Nikon F50, which has a 70-210mm lens and another 35- 80mm lens. I also have a Pentax FM2. With the camera lens, you have an image that is an instant recollection of a moment.

In every single country I have been to over the last 30 or 40 years, I have never failed to take photographs. These form a valuable record and they have become my friends.

I hate the video camera. To me, it is no longer an art form because it doesn't capture a moment. With the camera, the image is stylised, rather than merely reproducing a moment that you can see with the human eye. Unless, that is, you are making a documentary.For capturing a mood, there is nothing like the still photograph. It evokes a whole period, which couldn't be done with a moving image when you haven't time to dwell; to meditate on the expression on a face, the character or the personality, and wear and tear.

So, my camera is a wonderful mechanism. I prefer one without too many computer parts that do things for you, and you have to read a manual the size of a telephone directory. I like to make my own decisions, read my own light meter.

I love machinery for what it does, but I don't have to be attached to it. For instance, I will have a mobile phone in the car in case I break down. But generally I think that they are the biggest plague of the age - detestable, abusive - and it means everyone's private world and all its banalities are amplified in every public space, bar, train and cafe. The sooner they ban them in public the better: I have thought about leaving London just because I can't stand it.

I don't think I am a Luddite. It is obviously necessary to have telephones, answering machines, the Internet and fax machines. I have all these, but I don't use them - I have a secretary. However, as a creative person, I have to be near things that make me creative.

For writing, I have four or five different electric typewriters. I love the feeling of paper and I don't want to look at a television screen or have electrical impulses going into my brain.t I like to see the printed word. My typewriters are put in different rooms. One is for prose, one for letters and one for plays. So I have different piles, and three different offices.

I can write anywhere. My notebook is my computer. It doesn't need batteries, just a bit of ink. I believe that the more machinery you have the more you start to need. These things are really only embellishments; they are refinements of what the brain does anyway.

Steven Berkoff's one-man show `Shakespeare's Villains: a Masterclass in Evil' opens at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London (0171-930 8800), on 30 June. He was talking to Jennifer Rodger