Emily Wardill‘s Sea Oak was developed from a series of interviews conducted with the The Rockridge Institute, a left-orientated think tank located in Berkeley, California. From 2001 until its closure in April 2008, the Institute researched contemporary political rhetoric with special emphasis on the employment of metaphor and framing.
The strict absence of images throughout the film is introduced by institute member Eric Haas. He describes how, in everyone’s imagination, the word “bird” evokes a similar imagined creature. This prototypical bird exists only in common thought (“We don’t think of an ostrich or a penguin…”) and provides the idea of an image to begin a film consisting only of black leader and sound. In the sole spotlight of the space, only the apparatus can be seen, the film projector, staged like a sculpture.