How Designer Lydia Cambron Recreated Kubrick’s 2001 for the COVID Era
“Into” is a series dedicated to objects, artworks, garments, exhibitions, and all orders of things that we are into — and there really isn’t a lot more to it than that. This week: Marissa Gluck takes us on an intergalactic journey with designer Lydia Cambron’s 2020: An Isolation Odyssey.
Quarantine has a strange effect on time. Our days can seem interminable, the monotony stretching from one season to the next. For the designer Lydia Cambron, the recursive nature of time in lockdown has actually been inspiring; she staged the entirety of her latest project, a shot-by-shot recreation of the eight-minute finale of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, in her one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment. The result, fittingly titled 2020: An Isolation Odyssey, captures what the New Yorker called Kubrick’s “languid eternity,” but with a twist.
Meticulously crafted and dryly comic, Cambron has reenvisioned Kubrick’s film using the fundamental instruments of self-care in lockdown. Spacesuits are replaced with sweatsuits, PPE and face masks figure prominently, planet Earth is a jigsaw puzzle, and the Monolith is reinterpreted as unused exercise equipment. While in Kubrick’s film the passage of time is marked by age, Cambron’s version employs wardrobe and wellness products. Cambron’s judicious use of self-care commodities interrogates the narrative that these products serve as remedies in times of distress. As Cambron says, “It illustrates the absurd comedy of trying to maintain control.”
Working from late March to May, Cambron shot the 27 frames changes at a pace of about one per day, using a timer and a remote. To ensure pacing was in line with Kubrick’s, she set up voice memos to guide her movements and body. Acting proved more challenging. “You think your body is doing one thing, but you watch the footage and it’s doing something else,” she laughs. Cambron’s initial plan was to create something raw and DIY, more TikTok than technicolor. With a background is industrial design, she faced a steep learning curve to shoot and edit video, particularly in the Kubrickian wide lens format. But when watching 2001, the apropros narrative of isolation became apparent immediately. Like so many of us, she felt the nagging anxiety that with so much time on our hands we should be using it productively. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and everyone feels they need to pick up new hobbies or become better at domestic pursuits,” she says. “We should be working out, or learning to cook. I wanted to poke at the anxieties of the new normal, the guilt over not doing something that you think you should.” For the rest of us who haven’t accomplished so much in these past months, An Isolation Odyssey is a witty meditation on time itself that we can enjoy while sitting on our stationary bikes, or, more realistically, in bed staring at our screens.