I work backwards as a filmmaker. For me to find the story, first I need to be inspired by a physical space which conjures the characters and the emotions. Detroit gave me my aesthetic by introducing me to empty spaces. I watch as light moves across abandoned structures being taken back by nature, dying and being reborn. While in Armenia I spied in kitchen corners where personal family conversations were being held. The front lines of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict deep in the Caucasus mountains brought me visions of a soldier and his twin sister, caught in the abyss that is grief. A gated garden, green and lush in the summer heat gave me an image of nude woman, standing unashamed, looking directly at me. Spaces dictate the tone and feed me the seeds of the story which come forth only when I indulge my curiosity to explore.
I am made from the juxtaposition of my immigrant upbringing to the world of classical paintings I studied. Remembrandt’s Head of Christ resemble Armenian men pondering philosophical questions over mulberry vodka. Vermeer’s use of light seeps into Soviet apartment buildings and becomes the aesthetic goal for a lighting set up. Caravaggio’s compositions dictate the energy of the scene I am blocking. Van Gogh taught me perseverance. Dutch still life painting made me see the grandeur of life’s minutiae.
I have become Baudelaire’s flaneur, “To see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world.” I have become the spectator and I watch eagerly the subtleties which give away our secrets. I lay down my film frames around the microcosms of what is indiscernible between you and I: emotions. To say what artists have said from the beginning. To remind us of what we have always known. I slow down time in a dark theatre, a camera obscura, and build a world 24 frames per second to meditate on the darkness inside us all in hope of finding the light and answering the eternal question, “Why…”
I am an explorer plotting the depths of the unseen. The abyss of emotions, unchanged from the earliest stories of human history and still vastly uncharted.