How can lacuna be visually explored and represented in the context of public human interaction? Gathering stimulation from the film, sound and comedic techniques of 20th century satirists, depict the empty space we see in the learned tension of societal communication.
Answer: Inspired by the works of Charlie Chaplin and Jacques Tati, we’ve decided to use a blank studio space and simplistic props to convey the cautious and stunted nature of strangers interacting. Through instructing our actors on what to do and how to act we explored aspects of artificiality driven with our uses of glitches and hand movements mimic the artificial scenes you see on TV. Minimalistic sound and colour, along with static camera angles and no dialogue force the viewer to engage in the awkwardness of the situation and be consumed by at times the uncomfortable humour. We developed our ideas by viewing human interaction and then choreographing one of our own, dramatizing the rigidity and anxiety seen in our actors’ body language. The box is symbolic of the unspoken gaps between strangers; neither party address, but both are aware it is there leaving the boundaries of human interactions and personal space ignored.
Our project has really developed from our original intentions. As you can see from the progression of our blog posts, our goal has always been to explore human interaction, but our tools for depicting this have changed drastically.
I think the first standout has been the utilisation of studio space. We originally wanted to invade the privacy of random persons in order to survey their use of public space, reflecting upon how the viewer would feel as they interrupted their private space, despite the communal setting?
Hence, the organic nature of our project made filming difficult, and it was hard to find a concise aesthetic. Furthermore, we felt like there was very little space to explore the photographic and conceptual ideals from other film artists.
So, we moved on to our next idea. Using architecture and ‘wasted space’, we wanted to portray the importance of lacuna in design, and the irony behind terms such as ‘waste’ when talking about design (and then how this is symbolic of human interaction). When building houses, buildings, temples, workplaces etc., it’s impractical and dysfunctional to utilise every space; there is clarity and order in the blank spaces. So too does this apply to the physical and relational gaps between strangers. Boundaries, although negative at times (which we also aimed to explore. E.g. mega mansions) create a sense of safety and control.
However, this idea became too literal. Filming churches and gaps in architecture was going to be too difficult to evolve into a study of human relations. BUT it did directly feed into our final idea, so was definitely not a waste! And our original imagery of this provoked our clean, clear aesthetic.
So, we took a step back decide to look into European satirists. After surveying their film techniques and comedy styling, we decided to strip our film to a choreographed interaction in a studio. Particularly, (as seen in blog post before) Charlie Chaplin and Jacques Tati. We were inspired by their use of silence and non-diegetic sound. The orchestral tones are really vital to setting the mood, so we didn’t include any diegetic noises from our actual filming, but manipulated the bass guitar give an unnatural feel to our work.
Our two strangers were told to interact in a certain way in each clip. Our choreography revolved around the box, which served as our lacuna. The lacuna we explored (as seen in our concept statement) was the societally enforced rules around human interaction (hence, localised to first-world western situation). Their movements are stunted, and often unresponsive to the others situation.
The glitches are representative of communication breakdowns, and the constant fear of not conforming in the right way to social norms. (See glitches below)
We also loved the way the camera stayed stagnant in a lot of Tati’s work, so the viewer focused even more heavily on each movement and expression of the human subject. His jolted and cautious manor builds awkwardness, making us laugh nervously as we’re unsure as to what he’ll do next. We hope to evoke these same awkward giggles from our audience, as they feel the pain of rigidity in the intermingling of our strangers.
Finally, our work forced our actors to move their bodies in unusual ways, creating a sense of vulnerability between us and them. Even the scratching of ones neck is not usually a public act, and as we sat and filmed, the level of self-awareness increased with the silence. Our collaboration has not always been smooth sailing, and out development of ideas has been long and slow, but we’re really excited with our final results. Our final video is below: