INTERIOR: AN EXQUISITE CORPSE FILM – STRAND A


‘Interior: an Exquisite Corpse film’, a collaborative project initiated by artist Sapphire Goss during the covid-19 lockdown. Taking inspiration from the Surrealist’s exquisite corpse method, each contributor would see the last few seconds of the previous film in the sequence and continue in their own way. The project resulted in two strands, included here is strand A plus interviews with the artists who made it.


A1 – SAPPHIRE GOSS

Please introduce yourself and your creative practice.

I am Sapphire Goss, I am an artist-filmmaker currently based in Folkestone. I make chimerical moving collages. I like to use obsolete technological methods and unexpected material techniques, making what I call an ‘analogue uncanny’. I like the idea of my films not having this static, auteur viewpoint but being made of choral layered voices and unexpected perspectives.

Can you talk a bit about the making of your film and how you have responded to the theme of Interior?

My film was shot in a few minutes one morning. Slightly delirious with a chest infection. The window was open but the curtains were closed, wind making them bellow, inhaling and exhaling light. I filmed it from bed on my phone, and edited it in bed too, the bed I was confined to for some time, reduced to fundamental functions. I added some lung x-rays from silent footage I had come across while working on a film about the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. Chambers in chambers, interiors in interiors. I intend to expand this in a chapter for another project ‘Rooms’ – if I ever finish it! 

What was your initial reaction to the video prompt and how did this inform your film? 

I was first, which was quite intimidating. But the circumstances of the light and the room came together. I remember the feeling of being excited to see what everyone else would do and where this would go.

What has your experience been of making art during the lockdown? How has this time impacted on your process and ideas? Please share any ways you have personally found to deal with the anxiety and changes of this time.

I have veered wildly between periods of frantic activity and blank, grey days of nothing. This is not unusual for me however, having a chronic illness (Ankylosing Spondylitis) means my ability to work can range wildly when dealing with pain and fatigue. Managing energy and attention is a constant learning process. I have tried to focus on more process driven projects like this and ‘Eyes of Time’ (experiments continuing my work with antique, weird and Frankenstein-modified lenses, optics and filters). Learning new skills and making new discoveries without a set outcome has been a real solace at this time, as has connecting with people through different online communities in the absence of face to face contact. It feels like I am developing a palette or toolkit to store up for the future.


A2 – KAREN ENG

Please introduce yourself and your creative practice.

I’m a writer and multidisciplinary artist currently exploring a variety of still and moving-image media, including large-scale live-animated digital projection, VR and mixed reality. I mash up different art-making tech methods just for fun, as well as bridging ancient and contemporary, analog and digital art-making platforms.

Can you talk a bit about the making of your film and how you have responded to the theme of Interior?

During this time of physical isolation, I’ve wanted to retreat even further. I’ve wanted to be as far from Earth and its messiness and pain as possible. I withdrew into VR to create environments for myself in which to meditate, take comfort, and rest. I also made fun things to cheer myself up: including these VR-sculpted ice creams lit by electric lights, reminiscent of Japanese night festivals, circuses and amusement parks – places I wished I could escape to. For this collaboration, I superimposed them onto an animated background and added a soundtrack to evoke the speed and chaos of the external world in contrast to the comfort and whimsy of the dancing ice creams.

What was your initial reaction to the video prompt and how did this inform your film?

I was excited to have the opportunity to participate in a collaboration of this kind. In the past, I would’ve likely filmed something in the natural world and thought carefully about how easily my piece would fit with everyone else’s. But my authentic experience in relation to the theme was taking place in VR, so I just went with it.

What has your experience been of making art during the lockdown? How has this time impacted on your process and ideas? Please share any ways you have personally found to deal with the anxiety and changes of this time.

Going into VR to make art has really expanded and given dimension to my inner experience – and offered me deeper solitude. Meanwhile, I’m also in frequent contact with artists around the world, and we are collaborating at a pretty frantic pace. The ice creams, for example, were also picked up by cryptoartist Uranus Oyster, who reworked them into another abstract digital artwork. The opportunity to cooperate has taken me in many new directions, and I’m getting a crash course in technologies I’d never even considered. I guess the fact that it’s all so new helps distract me from the pain of the times we’re living through, and lays groundwork for exciting future work.


A3 – DANIEL & CLARA

Please introduce yourself and your creative practice.

We are Daniel & Clara, two humans working together as one artist. We work with moving image, performance, photography and letters. Our work focuses on the British countryside as a site for encounters with the mysterious, the eerie, the otherworldly and the unknown. These encounters are presented in the form of artefacts such as travelogues, diaries, objects, and correspondence.

We are also the founders of Moving Image Artists, an organisation we have set up for supporting and cultivating contemporary moving image art and experimental film. Through MIA we publish an online magazine and run the Moving Image Salon, which is a regular gathering for artists to meet, share and discuss their work.

Can you talk a bit about the making of your film and how you have responded to the theme of Interior?

This spring we had been planning to go camping in Cornwall, a trip to film the standing stones and coastline for a video installation we’ve been developing. When the lockdown was announced we were in the middle of researching the trip and pretty much set to go a few weeks later. At first we didn’t realise the lockdown would be so long lasting and we were optimistic that we’d still go, but as time went on of course it became impossible.

We were very disappointed but rather than completely abandoning our research and planning, we channelled some of the energy and ideas into our film for this project – interior here meant for us the inner landscape, the imagined version of the trip that had already existed during our planning. When we imagine something it begins to exist, it starts to be real, so we wanted to work with this idea. We pitched our tent in the garden and filmed ourselves exploring the available space as if we were on holiday in the Cornish landscape, and we wrote a diary about our trip and the sights we had imagined we would see. The final film included here is presented as a fragment of a home movie of our journey.

What was your initial reaction to the video prompt and how did this inform your film?

We watched the tiny clip about ten times, trying to understand what we were looking at – the jerky movement of its various elements, the neon colours and what appeared to be an ice cream floating in a void – we thought that maybe it was based on a dream, or expressing a desire to go out and have ice cream, but presented as a kind of anxious vision. The rhythm was really interesting and the ice cream tied in well to our idea of holidays and the Cornish seaside.

What has your experience been of making art during the lockdown? How has this time impacted on your process and ideas? Please share any ways you have personally found to deal with the anxiety and changes of this time.

When lockdown was announced we were staying with family on Mersea Island on the Essex coast, we had only planned to be here for a short while but have now not left the island for many months and it’s not looking like we’ll be moving back to London any time soon. We’ve had to change a lot of plans and we’ve lost a lot of work too, but we’ve also found lots of new opportunities opening up. Fortunately we are quite happy to be where we are as it’s a beautiful area and one that we’ve been planning to use as the setting for some upcoming projects. We have definitely been up and down through this time though, sometimes we have had to deal with anxiety and illness, but for us as long as we can have time and space to focus on our creative work then we can deal with anything. We always turn to creativity as a matter of survival, through image-making we can reflect on and make sense of our existence, whatever it is we are going through.

One of the key ways it has impacted our creative practice is this intense focus on our immediate surroundings. Due to being confined to our home and the places within walking distance, we have spent a lot of time looking closely and paying attention to the weather and changes which occur in the landscape. For the first time in years we were able to watch the change from winter to spring in minute detail and then the shift from spring to summer. Reflecting on this in parallel to thinking about what is happening in the wider world and also relating it to the process of our art making, we see that everything is in a constant state of change, each moment subtly shifting from one thing to the next, life is made up of many small moments that contribute to the overall experience. Somehow we feel that through this period we have come to a deeper understanding of this.


A4 – SAM MEECH

Please introduce yourself and your creative practice.

My name is Sam, I’m an artist and educator from Huddersfield, UK. I’ve done a lot of interactive video installations, and also a few documentary shorts, plus some stop-motion knitted animations. I have also made two versions of Groundhog Day (so far).

Can you talk a bit about the making of your film and how you have responded to the theme of Interior?

I forgot there was a theme! Crumbs. I guess it was always going to reflect being stuck inside anyway – I was mostly thinking about what I can see and hear from the flat. I bet everyone feels like James Stewart in Rear Window lately.

The big thing I had to get over was to not be too precious. I tried not to plan or overcook it too much, and just allow it to be an exercise in doing something in a new way (for me). The only ‘planned’ bit was filming myself looking out of the window – that was to contextualise the other stuff really. I didn’t film much at all. I was very lucky I spotted the tangled dog walkers – they were a gift. But it was important to be generous to whoever comes after too – I really liked the puppy being dragged out of shot. I hope that the film-maker who got my prompt was okay with it!

What was your initial reaction to the video prompt and how did this inform your film?

The first thing that struck me was that my prompt had a thaumotropic effect of flashing two images – a wave and a person silhouetted against the sun – it made me think of Chris Paul Daniel’s films that really cleverly fuse images and times together through rapid cuts. It recurs in a lot of his work. In fact, one of the films is a bird in a cage.

The key aspect I took from the prompt was the sound of the birds. That was something I’ve been noticing a lot and paying attention to (but I find it harder to spot them). There is one bird that sings super loud every morning around 4-5am, which is the one you hear in the film. The first time I heard it, I was still asleep and it was folded into my dream, distorted.

What has your experience been of making art during the lockdown? How has this time impacted on your process and ideas? Please share any ways you have personally found to deal with the anxiety and changes of this time.

I thought I was going to do so much more video stuff! I brought my video-mixers back from the studio but I haven’t touched them. I teach through video chat, and see my family through Skype, so I don’t feel like doing screen stuff generally in the evening. The only video I have made was to re-edit Dominic Cummings’ press conference to the Everly Brothers. Generally I prefer tinkering with board game ideas instead; cutting and sticking and so on. That being said, the fact we’re all remote now has encouraged me to reach out to people a bit more and not be so blinkered – this project is a good example of that.


A5 – RICARDO LEIZAOLA 

Please introduce yourself and your creative practice. 

I am an anthropologist with experience in making and teaching documentaries. I am also interested in using the smartphone for street photography and documentary. I use it as my main platform to take, edit and post pictures and videos about the things I encounter. As such there is no separation between my creative practice and my routine.

Can you talk a bit about the making of your film and how you have responded to the theme of Interior?

I had lots of materials produced during the lockdown, including some of the clips I used. It was the interior of my mind, my fears that I wanted to address. Somehow my son’s story captures some of it.

What was your initial reaction to the video prompt and how did this inform your film?

The sound of the birds hit me for its familiarity with my own experience during the lockdown. The shot was puzzling but inviting. Is this not about interior?

What has your experience been of making art during the lockdown? How has this time impacted on your process and ideas? Please share any ways you have personally found to deal with the anxiety and changes of this time. 

Making art has been the best way to cope with the anxiety and uncertainty triggered by the pandemic. The confinement and the free time have forced me to explore more conceptual approaches in which I feature heavily. It has been very productive but messy and eclectic. I still need to organize and output most projects.


A6 – JOHN PARRY

Please introduce yourself and your creative practice.

I’m John. I’m not really an artist, but have been an enabler of others on a number of occasions. However, inasmuch as I do have a creative practice, it’s about finding things – preferably contradictory ideas and challenging people to do the opposite of what they’re expected to do. I despise bull fighting, for instance.

Can you talk a bit about the making of your film and how you have responded to the theme of Interior?

This followed a (masked) bus journey, where I missed my stop trying to do something else for this project. It didn’t work, but I was deposited next to a bull ring where there was a photography exhibition by Carlos Saura that drew me into the space. The clip is obviously exterior/interior, which was going to be the bus theme, so when I saw the main protagonist doing what he was doing it felt fateful.

What was your initial reaction to the video prompt and how did this inform your film?

My prompt was about ‘fighting’ a virus – once I caught sight of the guy in the ring I was struck that he was attempting to joust with an invisible foe. Seemed to fit.

What has your experience been of making art during the lockdown? How has this time impacted on your process and ideas? Please share any ways you have personally found to deal with the anxiety and changes of this time.

If I do attempt ‘art’ it’s normally writing and I was completely stuck dumb by the strictest lockdown in Europe. All I could think about was my occasional foray into the outside world and how I’d avoid the police on my journey. It was lonely and stressful.


A7 – HANS LO

Please introduce yourself and your creative practice.

My name is Hans Lo and I make experimental narrative videos. I am forever obsessed with the relationship between images and sounds. In recent years, I have been gearing towards composing music and performing either solely or collaboratively with others.

Can you talk a bit about the making of your film and how you have responded to the theme of Interior?

We all have experienced the feeling of claustrophobia at some point or another through this lock-down and I really wanted to explore this notion through a digital interior. The corridor you see in the film is restricted, almost never-ending and feels oppressive. This corridor formed a structure for the camera to roam through, passing untextured 3D objects. These objects are modelled by CG artists online during the last couple months and there is a trend that a majority of these are interior themed (in comparison to prior the lock-down where more nature inspired objects are made). The monochromatic aesthetic is to enhance the idea of disassociation and, to be honest, reduces rendering time as I didn’t have to worry too much about high-res textures for each model.

The text is written by Tara Langford and Matt Boyle, who are my close friends and work colleagues. Seeing as the three of us can’t physically work in the same space (which is such a drastic change from seeing them almost everyday) I really wanted to get their internal responses to this theme.

The soundtrack was structured around a recording of the bread machine in Lidl’s during the height of the lock-down. This ‘joyful’ yet eerie melody rings throughout the shop as it was mostly empty and I found that rather poetic, given the anxieties and bleakness we were experiencing. The flicker strobing effect is accentuated by the granular technique used to distort this sample. In addition, drone tones and percussive sounds were added to give further synchronicity to the pace of the walk and images on screen.

What was your initial reaction to the video prompt and how did this inform your film?

The video prompt gave me the idea to digitally mimic the camera’s motion and wonder what was at the end of the vanish point in the bullfighting arena. I wanted to ‘teleport’ the viewer into an entirely different environment.

What has your experience been of making art during the lockdown? How has this time impacted on your process and ideas? Please share any ways you have personally found to deal with the anxiety and changes of this time.

My experience of the lock-down has been ups and downs. My wife was pregnant so on the plus side we had ample time to nest and prepare for the arrival of our child. But because I was teaching online, there was no separation between life and work. All of my family is in Hong Kong so all my worries were not being able to support them physically through the lock-down.

Having said that it’s been mostly positive, the need for commuting disappeared so there is much more time to actually sit and just ‘be’. This really helps with emptying the mind to ‘play’ creatively so I have been focusing on lots of sonic experiments. It definitely helped with taking my headspace out of the pandemic bleakness.


A8 – KATE SAUBESTRE

Please introduce yourself and your creative practice.

Hello, I’m Kate Saubestre, a French-American artist, who works primarily in painting and sculpture. My work frequently explores common perceptions of American identity and Western values, in a bold and colourful style. Specifically, I examine a variety of facets including: media, consumerism, capitalism and gender roles, while also delving into the impact that these systems have on environmental and social injustices.

Can you talk a bit about the making of your film and how you have responded to the theme of Interior?

For this film, I wanted to negate featuring human presence, other than my own, to represent the isolation and haunting effect that has stemmed from the pandemic. I instead focussed on the literal interpretation of “interior” and contrasted it with my longing to be connected with the exterior (represented by the windows and hearing the exterior sound of rain in an interior space). I began by filming the clips through my smartphone – a device that has served as my main source of interaction outside my interior. During the editing process, I focussed on the low drones of machinery and peaceful pattering of rain, reflective of the ongoing monotony that has come from what feels like living in Groundhog Day.

What was your initial reaction to the video prompt and how did this inform your film?

After staying inside for almost half a year now, my response to interior has changed since the beginning of the stay-at-home order (put in place in California on March 15). Interior, which I used to associate with inside or shelter, now feels more like a bad word or a mandated curse. I originally thought of focussing on a single room and filming only the corners, to give the viewer a prison effect through montage – another word I now associate with interior –, but then settled on filming all the windows of the interior I occupy, as a way to express my longing for the outside World.

What has your experience been of making art during the lockdown? How has this time impacted on your process and ideas? Please share any ways you have personally found to deal with the anxiety and changes of this time.

I am currently working on a smaller, more intimate scale; reflective of the confinement and limited social interactions that have come with quarantine. As the world came to a standstill, I found myself with a lot more time for reflection, for better or for worse. Forcing me off the rat-race I had involuntarily found myself in, I began to re-prioritize my day to day ambitions as well as readdress my art practice. I am working hard not to rely on outside validation as an encouragement to create and have taken off the pressure from myself to create art because I know I should. Instead, I have sought to dial down my inner-critic and create as, not to be too cheesy, an act of love and to help process the world around me.


A9 – GABRIELLE LINDAU

Please introduce yourself and your creative practice.

Gabrielle Lindau, Filmmaker, Photographer, and Storyteller.

Can you talk a bit about the making of your film and how you have responded to the theme of Interior?

In many ways I identified with the creature in my video. I’ve been seeing these types of caterpillars for years but it wasn’t until the lockdown that I started thinking about their unique ability to cocoon themselves prior to transforming. Their cocoons are essentially their interiors. While a million things could be going on around them and the threat of birds and vermin are present they tirelessly work to weave their little safety nets from life. It made me think a lot about time and the personal transformations I’ve made as a result of the global health crisis.

What was your initial reaction to the video prompt and how did this inform your film?

The prompt made me feel as though I was watching a slow moving dream at night. It made me start to question the idea of an interior, light’s ability to evoke moods, and how this can be different for everyone depending on one’s perspective.

What has your experience been of making art during the lockdown? How has this time impacted on your process and ideas? Please share any ways you have personally found to deal with the anxiety and changes of this time.

During lockdown I revisited many old negatives and works in progress. Simultaneously I felt as though I was creating my own cocoon that served as a safety net from the horrors of the outside world. All the while the clock continued to tick tock day after day. As time has now past and the lockdown has lifted I have a different perspective on the world both internally and externally.


A10 – TALITHA BELL

Please introduce yourself and your creative practice.

London based photographer and experimental film maker Talitha Bell uses both analogue and digital platforms. She explores surrealistic, provocative and metaphysical themes, and draws inspiration from symbolism, poetry and dreams. With applied knowledge in darkroom techniques, hand processing and other traditional photographic methods, Talitha equally shares an ebullience for modern technologies and equipment. Her film projects have utilised special effects and green screen techniques, both in studio and in post production. Talitha also works with 3D integrations and much of her video work is a collage of disciplines which consolidates her art direction practice; which overall is a multi faceted, sublime-entanglement of techniques and methodologies. Additionally Talitha has a fashion background which further solidifies her process.

Talitha graduated in 2019 with a First Class Honours BA in Photographic Arts at The University Of Westminster London England. 

“Symbolism is a big part of my life. I’m learning to read the wind and building a map of places I regularly visit in my dreams. It’s important to learn to see omens and build a psychic connection to the world around us. One day when the white rabbit comes, follow him!”

Can you talk a bit about the making of your film and how you have responded to the theme of Interior?

For me the theme interior relates to an inner world one carries within oneself. This could be a fantasy world or perhaps something more abstract and absurd that generates its meanings through symbols. In my interpretation we see a protagonist who dances and navigates through these worlds with no particular purpose than to journey through the faceted layers of her psyche and perhaps uncover some hidden omen lurking in the symbols of her socks. 

What was your initial reaction to the video prompt and how did this inform your film?

I could immediately see I have a very different style and aesthetic so decided to incorporate the commonest element which was nature. So my prompt begins with a “green nature scene”, which I hope can grow organically somehow.

What has your experience been of making art during the lockdown? How has this time impacted on your process and ideas? Please share any ways you have personally found to deal with the anxiety and changes of this time.

I struggled a lot during lockdown. My mental health took a nasty turn and I was completely blocked creatively.



Click for more articles in this issue: