“Vacant” is an experimental video that explores the relationship between vicarious participation and altering state of mind. Using first-person perspective, the video inputs the viewer as the participant who enters the space without consent. Not knowing what will occur, the viewer immediately recognizes the auditory and visual cues that indicate a sinister presence lurking through the vacant spaces. In terms of developing the ideas, the horror movie genre served as inspiration for this project, especially director Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” Horror movies often use common tropes, such as jump scares, jarring music, and dilapidated locations, to evoke feelings of suspense and terror. When people vicariously enter this unknown and somewhat threatening space, they get defensive and search for the imagined presence of a person or creature despite the apparent emptiness of the space. The odd camera angles further distort the viewers’ reality and enhance their sense of unease. The seemingly abandoned hallways in conjunction with the eerie, startling noises are reminiscent of the horror genre, but there is a deliberate attempt to avoid the “cliché” tropes of horror movies.
The title appears over a still shot of a blurry light fixture that mirrors the light at the end of the video. The following scenes utilize various camera techniques, such as shallow depth of field, quick panning shots, slow tilts, and shaky camera movements, to create mixed pacing that makes the viewer feel on edge. In addition, the video utilizes a bleach filter to enhance the gritty detail of the peeling walls and scratched floors. With this filter, the scratched floors and long carpeted hallway give the appearance of spilled blood. Experimenting with jump scares, the audio includes loud, immediate sounds, such as a door shutting, as climactic points in the video.