"Portable Obstruction Device" / A film on social distance, by Stephanie Owens



A short, light-hearted meditation on social distance by filmmaker Stephanie Owens.

Creative Statement: Instructional Video for the Portable Obstruction Device, is both an infomercial and instructional video for a crudely made apparatus that prevents its user from seeing or being seen from the side.

The Instructional Video is absurd and relatable. The formal presentation of an awkward object is ridiculous, however its suggested uses seem logical. The combination of the two is comical. Laughter becomes a defense mechanism used to reconcile the discomfort produced from recognizing the absurdity of such an object, and simultaneously acknowledging the desire to use one.

Advertising is fore-grounded as the voice presents a product to the viewer. However, its reference to early instructional video positions the P.O.D as a precursor to a contemporary object like the iPod or iPhone. Such technological devices function similarly to the P.O.D because they also limit physical interactions between people. In The Instructional Video, the distance between the narrator’s voice and action taking place directs the viewer’s attention to the difference between how these types of devices are presented and what they actually achieve.

In the darkened room of the gallery, people strategically place themselves in relation to the monitor and to other bodies. Why so much space? Even though the P.O.D does not exist, present day technology and American cultural customs generate the same effect. Distance.