Born in Houston, Texas in 1985, Blake Williams lives and works as an artist in Toronto where he is also taking a doctorate at the University of Toronto’s Cinema Studies Institute. His films have screened at festivals including Locarno, Toronto and New York. Alongside his work as an artist and academic, he is also a film critic and helps programme the Big Ears Film Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.
What was your starting point for 2008?
2008 arrived from an extended process of working with what might now be called an “old” TV set — a cathode-ray tube monitor released by RCA in 2008, which was the final year that TVs of that technology were mass produced in North America and most of the rest of the world. I’ve been working with 3D technology for nearly ten years now, and I wanted to manufacture stereoscopic cathode-ray images while I still have the opportunity. That said, it’s difficult to say where the film started, because it emerged out of a long process of trials, errors, and misdirections — as my pieces always do. Like the piece itself, there is no beginning or ending, only two cutoff points. At a certain point in my process, I noticed that there were a number of moving parts that were starting to coalesce and benefit from being placed alongside one another, and it resulted in something I was able to feel comfortable in calling a finished, singular work.
Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?
2008 can be a little disorienting and alienating to watch, mainly because the camera is always very tight and close up on a TV screen; the viewer may be unable to spatially locate themselves with regards to where they are or what they’re looking at. There are a handful of moments, though, when you can hear me breathing, or taking a deep breath in the background of the sound design, and I’m personally always comforted when these instants arrive. Not only because these are points of human connection in an otherwise potentially ominous situation, but because it’s an invitation for the viewer to get in sync with me, with my own rhythm and production process. My piece features many images of nature and full frames of pure colour, which tend to indicate universality or a lack of specificity. But it all comes from a very personal and vulnerable place, and I think it’s in these moments where that most peaks through.
What do you like about the short form?
I think every film should be as short as possible. The more time we get to spend outside, the better.