As a filmmaker, screens are Sam Handley’s currency, the medium through which he communicates his vision to the world. But it’s a complicated relationship, and that complication prompted the 34-year-old New Zealander to examine it in this series of four vignettes.
Handley told VICE that screens—those pixelated windows to the world we spend much of our life staring at—can have an almost “hypnotic” effect, that it is easy to lose your self-awareness as you scroll through your various social media feeds, check your emails, or generally just outsource your mind to the outer reaches of the Internet.
He felt that screens were having an effect on his own creativity. “I recall a point a couple of years ago when I was having a lot of screen time and felt I didn’t want to overload my mind and risk affecting my imagination.” Which he values too highly to put in jeopardy: one of life’s great privileges, he says, is “being able to come up with an idea in your mind then actually being able to make it. This is one of the most magical and fulfilling things in life."
Nature is, for him, the perfect antidote to the ever-increasing intrusion of technology into our personal lives, and nature has a large presence in this latest series of work. “Nature is one of the greatest creations of all and I feel a kind of mystical connection with it. Whenever I am in nature I feel it revitalises my soul and gives me my life force.” Handley has lived in Berlin for the past eight years, but recently spent an extended period of time on a houseboat, living off the grid next to a nature reserve—like “living in a beautiful poem”, he says.
He wanted to test out a lifestyle that didn’t depend so emphatically on technology and the Internet for its sense of fulfilment. “I feel more and more things are becoming dependent on the Internet and it doesn’t sit very well with me. One day someone could just pull the plug.”
Until that happens, however, sit back, tilt your screen from the sun, check your connection, and enjoy Handley’s cinematic vision of a contemporary dilemma.
Check out more of Sam Handley's work here.