the square bends time’s backward/forward momentum into a geometry of place, wherein “to be” becomes “to dwell”

It has been a long Winter. On August 27th, I packed my suitcases and jumped on a Winnipeg train bound for Halifax for 8 months of reading, study, and essay-writing on the Atlantic coast. Last year’s projects, including Notes from the Fort and the poetry manuscript that grew from NFTF’s keen attention to place, ended up on hold over the winter – marinating – as I like to think of it. Yet with April has come a new project, and a couple of big changes, most notably, a change of location.

This past month, I returned to Winnipeg to pack the rest of my things. Nova Scotia has stolen my heart, and a new space is opening up for me there. Yet besides the packing, I’ve been working on a new short film called “SQUARE”, which is based on a poem from my new manuscript. I’ve had the pleasure of working with cinematographer Tyler Funk again on this project, only this time we added a few other talented artists to the production, including artistic director Seth Woodyard, set designer Peter Kralik and gaffer Ben Stouffer.

“SQUARE” is the story of a room, which undergoes shifts and transformations through subtle effects of placement and orientation, effectively disrupting the viewers perception of what is. The action takes place in a square room with a window, using one actor. There is no door, though the figure inside is not trapped, nor is she troubled by the transient nature of the space. Instead a mood of nostalgia is created through an exaggerated focus on a few particular objects in the room. The transient nature of place and the distorted perspective of memory is what drives the film.

The metaphor of the square has become for me a means of thinking about the interrelation of time and space. Time is often described as a line, a road, a river, etc., all of which presuppose a movement from/to. This is obviously the case, and yet when thinking about time and place in relation, this metaphor becomes less helpful. Times occur in relation to places. We refer to this interrelation with phrases like “That time I lived in Winnipeg” or “When I worked at the bakery.” Time, here, is experienced more as an occasion, as a block of similar reality in which we dwell with others, in place, for a duration. The patchwork quilt is a useful illustration of this idea of a life made up of places. It is as if each square bends time’s backward/forward momentum into a geometry of place. And “to be” becomes “to dwell.”

“SQUARE” is based on the poem “Sigur Rós doesn’t sound the same on these speakers” and will debut on CBC television’s “Canadian Reflections” program in the 2015/2016 season.