Deep Space One – Director's Statement
Deep Space One (2007) is a query about the nature of free will. It is an unfulfilled mythological quest, a fairytale and a psychadelic trip. It is inspired by the foreboding brought on by illogical fragments of unfinished dreams and nightmares that play back and interrupt waking life in uncanny ways.
As is often the case in my work, I began this project with several images or short sequences that lingered in the back of my mind and that I could neither consciously grasp nor entirely dispel. Using a process akin to that of the Surrealists, I let these first sequences dictate the subsequent scenes, allowing the film to grow organically and coalesce into the internal narrative logic of its final form. Working with neither script nor story boards I then began to try to recreate these recurring images. I constructed, altered, destroyed, and rebuilt the sets according to my evolving vision and according to the internal demands of the film's evolving narrative.
I knew from the outset that the final piece would present an immersive, multi-projection installation to prevent an easy settling of the viewers' concentration on any one image and to evoke the fluidity of a precognitive psychological state. The original image of the project was the trompe-l'oeil mural of the vast warehouse/studio space and was based on the idea of a transition from real, architectural space to a psychological, constructed reality.
For the psychological dimension I envisioned endless mountain scenery with an almost aquatic look. Unable to find through stock agencies or ski-film companies the moody, nocturnal footage that was in my mind, I set out to create it myself, both in the studio and in the real landscape. I hired a pilot in the Rocky Mountains and designed and fabricated a small mount to attach my camera to the wing of his airplane. I leaned out of two side windows with a second camera to capture raw, hand-held imagery. Based on this aerial footage, a mountain/cave set began to grow in my studio, and it gradually became apparent to me that the actors in the scene would be building the set in which they were working or acting.
The studio scenes are meant to evoke basic concerns of our lives, such as work, leisure, vanity, consumption and waste, interaction and introspection. As I always do, I worked with a racially mixed cast to reflect all-American ideals of harmonious efficiency and productivity. But within this "laboratory" environment, I intended not to resolve whether anyone was acting or working for me or just "hanging out," preferring to eliminate altogether the issue of motivation, to effect a sense of passive action and inevitability. The steady advance of camera and sound determine all, and even the direction behind the camera is audible at times.
With this same sense of inevitability, inexplicably, the walls start falling away before the camera and one is led forward through the psychological "deep space" and forward, back to the desolate beginning of the primordial garbage dump. The "plot" remains ultimately unresolved as the video loops back to its "beginning," mimicking the universal existential conundrum that I see in life; the relationship of inside/outside, real/artificial, you/I, and, like two mirrors placed face-to-face, in how these opposites endlessly reflect each other.