With such a high level of detail and no cuts you are giving your audience a lot of freedom in terms of how they look and what they choose to focus on.
Many of my films are single takes, uninterrupted shots that unfold in front of you in exactly the same way that they were made. But some are not as I also make films that are compiled from lots of different shots, or from lots of different bits of different shots. But the point is that even these latter films appear as if they were single uninterrupted shots, so your description is right in so far as my films eschew the language of editing or ‘the cut’. It would be foolish of me to say that I was against editing, but we know well that the grammar of editing imposes upon, or overlays the image with readings that are ideological in some way. And many artists have necessarily wanted to address that condition; but I am interested in imagining or thinking about what happens to film before that imposition. Film began as single uninterrupted takes so in a way it defined itself from the beginning as something that could later have things done to it, but did not have to. The single shot establishes duration as the real time of looking, and as it goes on and on (for more than a few seconds at least and upwards to ten minutes and more), a sense of an ending begins to dominate your experience of the film, the later hangs as the inevitable undoing of the shot. And it’s against that particular sense of time that our own human time is measured and felt—time is passing and an end is coming. Once you introduce a cut, you start all over again, and you can feel the imposition of some other time.
It’s rare for people to end up in your films and those who do are often disenfranchised, living in the margins of society. What draws you to these people and do you build people into your films as subjects or extensions of place?
I have no rules, or at least no rules that I won’t break (I have, by the way, made films with sound and other films with visible edits). But I do recognize, when looking at my films, the same condition that you have just described. Generally speaking I try only to have the type, social class, size, shape, gender, race, etc., of the kinds of people that typically inhabit or pass through the places I film. So when choosing to put people/actors into the films, these choices are almost always predicated on whom I might have seen there at one time or another. It may be that I would not have seen all of the characters that appear in a film at any one given time, but they more or less would have been seen there over time. My films often condense that time, producing a montage, not necessarily through cuts and additions, rather through condensation and concentration. People in my films also tend to be small, in the background so to speak, and this is probably because I am more interested in how people appear in a place rather than how they perform there. For me people are as much part of the composition of the image as the buildings or landscape. I think that this emphasis is crucial: it helps to reduce or contain the theatricality of the films. Of course it does not eliminate theatre, but I think my work tries to understand how people inhabit places formally, phenomenologically—compositional things that in turn help us better understand social complexities.