Daegen Shellenberger

Cleveland Institute of Art

The film still is a powerful tool. The viewer is aware that they are only seeing a single frame of what is meant to be a larger work. It is incomplete. It traps both the viewer and the subject(s) in a moment of time that they know isn’t supposed to be static.

Society constantly pushes against being isolated and the moment a conversation ends three more start to avoid having to feel alone. I spent my childhood constantly moving from cities, states and countries and as a result of this I became very familiar with those feelings, but without the social conditioning that they were bad and should be avoided. A peaceful calm comes with acknowledging these physical, emotional, and mental distances which permeates my photography and filmmaking; this photographic and film exploration of isolation, and confinement is intended to normalize them.

I fell in love with the film aspect ratio for its ability to support these emotions as it confines characters while revealing the wide gaps, expanses and spaces they inhabit; this confining of the environment and frame emphasizes the viewer's own inherent sense of separation. I gravitate towards soft colours and passive, peaceful, often sterile, environments to present these emotions as natural. Combined with the cinematographic aspect ratio it creates a sense of immersion in the moment that counteracts the societal conditioning against embracing these feelings as neutral, natural, necessary, and even beneficial for development.

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