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The Empty Sphere


Nothing really survives here.
The bottom is so deep that no light ever reaches it.
Very few boats go through.
It is unknown when the falls will take place.

This experimental documentary portrays a space object and its fall into the darkness of a space cemetery. A woman scientist reveals her attachment to this object and the absence of images documenting this mysterious place. As a reverse sci-fi journey, this essay mixes real and fictional archives to guide us, like a stalker, to the outskirts of an invisible place.

The story is elusive, its details stranded somewhere between documentary and fiction. A satellite of some sort is prepared for launch into space, only to be immediately subjected to a controlled explosion, sending it back down into the near-lifeless depths of the Pacific Ocean, below the ‘phantom bottom’ that sonar exploration cannot penetrate.

The truth of this narrative is hard to determine, as are the reasons behind such an elaborate and melancholy project of intentionally failed space travel. What remains is the link between the ocean abyss and the depths of space, infused here with a post-human gaze.

Stephanie Roland’s interest in this link perhaps finds its roots in her birth and early years in Micronesia. Roland moved to post-industrial Charleroi, Belgium at the age of three and her memories of island life are informed primarily by her father’s stories. The fragility of living so remotely, surrounded by the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, is a notion that repeatedly informs her work. The impassive machine eye of the space object observes its own hurtling descent from atmosphere to ocean, plunging into unknowable depths that will rise to engulf low-lying land in a matter of years.

Matt Lloyd

Director filmography: Podesta Island (2020), Deception Island (2017)

  • Director Stephanie Roland
  • Country Federated States of Micronesia
  • Year 2022
  • Duration 20m
  • Scottish Premiere


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