In order to get an original film to rotoscope, I was keen to explore the archives at Wellcome. I asked for films that might relate to the theme of body language and was recommended five items from the moving image archives:
These fascinating films provided some great clips relating to the theme and really appealed to me: the disapproving look from mother when the girl accidentally drops her plate; the intimidating surgeon looming over; the simplicity of the two hands connecting. Each clip, however short, communicates so much about the person, their relationship to others and the situation they are in.
I edited sections of these films together to create a new piece focussing on facial expressions, communication, posture and language. I took inspiration from the music videos of American band The Books: they often used found footage and archive material to show little moments between people. Their videos make me feel joyous because they have an element of anticipation; there’s no straightforward narrative so you’re not sure what you’re going to see next.
Another inspiration for me was the work of British artist Vicki Bennett (People Like Us), recognised as an influential and pioneering figure in the sampling, appropriation and cutting up of found footage and archives. I’d recently shown two of her films at the Horniman Museum & Gardens Magic Late event, so her work was clear in my mind when approaching the edit.
I added spoken word and music to bring the material to life and then exported the film as a PDF at 8 frames per second so I could print it out. The final edit comes in just under 4 minutes: that’s a massive 1782 pages! We only printed out a fraction of these to use over the weekend.
Over the course of two days, 261 pages were individually coloured in and collaged onto by visitors to Wellcome Collection. A wide range of people took part, from professional illustrators and designers to young children and their families.