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The Spaces Between Things
Let's inhabit them together
In one of the most recent—and perhaps most intimate—episodes of Actors on Actors,Jamie Lee Curtis and Colin Farrell interview one another about their current films: Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Banshees of Inisherin, respectively.
Curtis describes how Daniel Kwan, one of the writer/directors of Everything Everywhere, explained the genesis of the film: “He talked about…our phones and the society we live in, which is this digital input wherein one second we're seeing the catastrophe of the nightclub shooting last night. And then one swipe of our finger and it's a cat video, and one swipe of our finger and it's politics and Twitter. And the amount of information that we are processing as human beings now...” she trails off.
Modern life, aided and abetted by technology, demands that we continually sort through this whiplash of chaos, something our minds and our hearts are not designed for.
We need time, space, and stillness between things.
Music contains rests of different lengths because each one changes the way we hear the notes before and after it. So too, does visual art rely on negative space to make it possible for us to discern line and form. Just as quiet identifies the shape of a sound, the emptiness surrounding an object defines the object itself.
Absence is fundamental to existence, to perception, to our ability to process and understand what we’re experiencing. Yet we are systematically removing it from our lives. How can we be expected to find ourselves if we’re always bombarded by stimulus? How can we hear one another if we’re surrounded by a deafening scream?
Later in the interview, Farrell mentions that he often uses music to prepare for his roles. Curtis asks if she could hear something he listened to while filming Banshees to help him inhabit the emotional space of his character. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone, playing a composition for her through its tiny feeble speaker. Both of their eyes well up as they listen.
In this moment we, the audience, cease to exist. This is just two actors on a sound stage, taking time to appreciate a piece of music together, which those of us at home—watching on a tiny screen and listening through yet another set of tiny feeble speakers—can barely hear. The moment is miraculous because the shared experience between the two of them becomes more important than the interview they’re supposed to be doing for our benefit. The music gives them pause, which in turn gives us pause.
Holding back tears, Farrell says about the composition, “I think…there's forgiveness, there's revelation, there's hope, there's the acceptance of sadness. Not just the presence of sadness, not the acknowledgement of sadness…but the acceptance of it as a part of our life, you know?”
The acceptance can only happen in the space between things.
So whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, or something that can’t be named, my wish for all of us is that we allow ourselves, during this time, a short rest in the space and stillness that gives shape to everything around us.
OUT OF THE BOX will be taking next week off, but we will looking forward to seeing you in the new year. Sending peace to all.
As a sculptor, one of my greatest sources of inspiration is watching interviews with actors. The way that they metabolize their own experiences and emotions for storytelling is so exquisitely similar to how visual artists work. Whenever I feel stuck or low, I always watch actors talk about how they approach their craft. It never ceases to bring newness and awe to my practice.