Pregnant Spaces

Many years ago, shortly after my father died, I remember seeing a pile of the clothes he was wearing when he passed away. They had been newly washed and neatly pressed. As you can probably imagine, the emotional impression was very strong. The empty clothes were pregnant with his presence; the person who was once in those clothes and my experience of that person was completely shaping my relationship to what were inanimate objects, a space once filled with living presence and action.

Erik reflected in still river water

This experience has since shaped my approached to action and space in the films I make. The idea of spaces once occupied by characters and action, vacated, yet my lingering cinematic gaze exploring that vacated space are at the heart of my approach to my visual storytelling. These are spaces that become pregnant with presence because of what we have seen or inferred happening in them. This manifests itself in entire sequences, such as the slavery sequence in One Day Tafo, in the rigour of composition such as in Signs of Life, or in the narrative structure itself, such as in Vainilla Chip.

Of course, I’m not alone. Others have explored some of these ideas, too. Masters such as Bresson, Dreyer, Hammershøj, Hopper…