“State of Nature” is a reflection of my life during 2019’s initial lockdown. With both my school and social lives suspended indefinitely, the sudden lack of structure began to manifest itself in the form of “Jamais Vu,” a dissociative psychological state in which once-recognizable sensations are rendered unfamiliar. Seeking to express this distressing phenomenon to others, I decided to create my first experimental film.
On brief walks in the woods behind my house I began filming subjects which provoked internal dissociative sensations. As these expeditions grew increasingly longer, I became a camera-toting Thoreau, wandering endlessly through the wilderness in search of the perfect shot. Nature is predominantly stagnant, so this process required a shard of faith. I had to repeatedly convince myself that the world was a genuinely interesting place that would reveal itself to me only through patience and attention. Some days this piety would be rewarded by the kaleidoscopic reflections of a golden puddle or the thrashing branches of a wind-whipped tree. Other days I would walk home with nothing but a blank SD card.
After a month of these expeditions, it finally came time to start editing. I began by choosing my best thirty-seven shots and arranging them in a sequence, cutting each clip to match the inhalation of my audio track (I started getting dizzy by the third take). Next, I paired the exhalations with the continuous footage of an open highway. This re-occurring, industrial shot serves the dual purpose of juxtaposing the film’s natural imagery while also offering a reference point to navigate its visual tempest. Echoing its dissociative themes, “State Of Nature”’s hyper-saturated palette warps normal objects like snail shells and flowers into polychromatic, alien forms. This effect required several weeks hunched over a computer, fiddling with sliders and curves until each frame was adequately distorted.
As with many experimental works, “State of Nature”’s emphasis lies more in process than result. In taking months to produce a single minute of film, the project inadvertently provided me with the sense of routine I had been yearning for, instilling purpose on an otherwise dreary situation. My hope is that viewers will approach this work as a sensory experience, letting the film wash over them in a crescendo of sound and colour. Your heart may thump and your breath might quicken, but rest assured. It will all be over soon.