Experiencing Interruptions?

From a Spaceless Within

Compositing past and future, truth and fiction, From a Spaceless Within approaches the construction and dematerialization of the artist while asking where our intentions take root when we attempt to create anything at all.

The narrator of From a Spaceless Within establishes early on that he and the artist known simply as Miles were born two weeks apart, their lives taking similar shape before diverging at the onset of artistic coming-of-age—Miles becomes a widely-known, albeit divisive, figure in the art world; the narrator creates work as a small-time filmmaker. Nonetheless, or perhaps as a result, Miles agrees to having a film made about him to document work on his upcoming installation project, a nod to psychologist Harry Harlow’s primate experiments in the late-1950s. After nine months of production, Miles backs out of the film. What remains is a series of unfinished ideas, half-clear assertions, fragmented interview transcriptions, and a slew of uncertainty about what it might mean to embrace a project forever in the making.

In tandem with a portrait of the now-absent Miles, From a Spaceless Within utilizes archival materials to piece together the story of Harry Harlow, whose experimenting on rhesus monkeys in the late-1950s was motivated by a desire to prove the existence of love through hard scientific methods. The mutual and at times dueling aspirations of Harlow, Miles, and the filmmaker intertwine as they reconcile with their own respective failures.

  • Matthew LaPaglia
  • Matthew LaPaglia
  • Jillian Hagadorn
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Experimental, Short Film, Documentary, Docufiction, Science, Science History
  • Runtime:
    19 minutes 58 seconds
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Hot Docs Festival
    Toronto, ON
    May 1, 2022
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • GAZE International LGBT Film Festival
    September 28, 2022
    European Premiere
  • Paris Festival for Different and Experimental Cinema
    October 15, 2022
Director Biography - Matthew LaPaglia

Matthew LaPaglia (he/they) is a filmmaker, writer, and transdisciplinary artist working in video, installation, and performance art. His work explores art practice as a historiographical tool, interrogating where memory and identity coalesce with(in) collective narratives. His hybrid documentary, From a Spaceless Within, had its world premiere at Hot Docs in 2022, and he is the co-writer of The Red Sea Makes Me Wanna Cry, which was selected for the 2023 Quinzaine des cinéastes (Directors’ Fortnight) at Cannes. Born and raised outside of Syracuse, LaPaglia received a Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University, where he studied history, and earned his MFA from Emerson College in Boston. He currently lives in New England and works in nonfiction film funding.

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Director Statement

My video, film, writing, and performance work seeks to reconcile history and memory within a contemporary lexicon. It asks if the practice of artmaking can itself be a historiographical tool, positioning identity to interrogate the convergence of individual pasts and collective narratives.

What interests me is (re)appropriation, and the potential for materials of the past to be folded back into the present. This is formulated both aesthetically, with collaged visual media and textures, as well as conceptually, invoking sites where history has rooted itself into a greater imaginary, such as mid-century labs from which scientists have attempted to dictate the bounds of experience. As a result, each piece is temporally-minded and deals with material as a time capsule—one that is both exhumed by a piece and created within it. Even as we disinter history, we shape it; a re-telling is still a telling.

I aim to negotiate the way inner lives can be represented outside the confines of our minds, the way histories endure outside of archives. The corporeal plays an imperative role in this process, functioning as a conduit for distilling introspection and retrospection into the form of the human/animal body in space and time, often as it appears mediated through technology or video documentation. Just as critically, the body can be a limiting and overly signified form, and proprioceptive elements may instead be revealed through place, in text, on screens, or by objects.

My work is meant to engage with constructions of identity, longing, and expectation, calling into question the stakes we put in a future that is already being enacted. I intend to explore how we have come to delineate the edges of ourselves, actors in and writers of a present that extends both backward and forward into time we can only embody.