Despite the work’s rigorously formal ambitions – at least at first glance – Goiris’s influences range from the elemental cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky to the profoundly contemplative paintings of German Romantic Caspar David Friedrich.
“Friedrich is an incredible influence,” he says. “Me and a lot of people from my generation were drawn to it and I think that’s because it has something ancient that still works on us. And of course because the atmosphere is quoted in a lot of films and Romanticism has been a very important frame for me.”
Friedrich’s epic paintings often feature a lone figure silhouetted against a dramatically lit landscape. The setting is remote, the mood atmospheric. You get the sense that, as Goiris travels around, usually alone, he is that isolated figure overwhelmed by the landscape before him. “Travelling to these places – northern Norway, Lapland, the desert – and already having a romanticist frame of mind, of course you feel small in the huge world; you’re dwarfed by nature.”
What’s more, it’s the psychological affect of this landscape, as well as its monumental physical presence, that Goiris hopes to elicit with his camera. “I think what I’m trying to do is document a certain state of being in the world and of me being affected by it,” he says, getting to the nub of it.
As for where the work is headed, Goiris is keen to experiment with moving image, playing with long takes and a static camera. He explains: “Like photography and video, so it’s long takes, like still images but with a duration. I want to use those in tandem to create more tension or another way of looking.” Perhaps his Tarkovsky influence is finally coming to the fore. Whatever the medium, it’s unlikely we’ll see humans populating his frames in the future. When asked if he’ll continue to focus on rural, edge-of-the-world locations, he responds: “Yes, I think so. I stay away from the big cities.”
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