`Jumping Jack Flash' who will transform Dome

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The Independent Online
It will be a terrific, full blast, mega-watt, stage struck experience. Mark Fisher's raw materials are scaffolding, fireworks and dry ice, inflatable models, enough flashing lights to illuminate Milton Keynes for one night, and half a million watts. And he's planning the show of the century at the Millennium Dome.

In the United States his show for the Rolling Stones' 1990 Steel Wheels tour saw the band jump from eight to three in the world-wide chart of top performance earners. It generated revenues of more than $100m and was seen by 3 million people. Unassuming Fisher says mildly that he just uses special effects to highlight the performers. His lack of ego makes him a great team player.

The Stones "Bridges to Babylon" tour of Mexico moves to Europe in May and the UK in August. "Popmart", in which he catapulted U2 on stage in a 60ft rotating lemon is touring the Far East. Bono wrote "Too Much is Not Enough" around Fisher's sleuthwork for the set - it's the title of an autobiography by Morris Lapidus who designed the American supermarkets of the Fifties and Sixties and Fisher just loved it. "Rock is not a subtle medium," he says.

From his modest north London house, Architectural Association trained Fisher designs shows for Tina Turner, the Stones, U2 and Janet Jackson. So you can see why he thinks the Dome is a truly wonderful thing to be asked to work on. Outing MI6 agents is easier than getting names from the New - or even the Old - Millennium Experience. Confidentiality pressures on every player under the Dome prevent him from commenting on his role.

What catapulted Fisher to fame was the Berlin concert for Roger Waters of Pink Floyd in 1990. No sooner had the wall come down than Mark Fisher, with his then partner Jonathan Park, built the largest set in the world from 2,500 styrofoam bricks stretching 550 feet across No Man's Land for a one-night gig. Blood red at first, it was a backdrop to the military parade with gigantic projections written in 60ft high letters . "All in all it's just another hole in the wall" was blasting out as he blew it up in a flurry of styro-foam bricks. He recycled them as cavity wall insulation after the show.

Good on recycling, he turned old inflatable Honky Tonk Women from the Stones "Steel Wheels" set into gargoyles to highlight an exhibition of "Portable Architecture" at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

To camouflage the scaffolding skeleton, theatrical scrims are painted or left plain for projected images. A few 3D effects vary the monotony of everything taking place on one level. Fisher knows how to work with set riggers on the skeletal structure since they are capable of "modifying it" which means leaving it behind. Sets have to be capable of being built in 60 hours, up to 250 times in a tour.

One thing is for sure. If Mark Fisher signs his contract early next week, the dome will have at least one terrific crowd pulling attraction.

-- Nonie Niesewand

Design Correspondent