Simultaneously developed by its writer-director Simon Pummell as a film, a website, and a gallery installation, Bodysong is not a work lacking in ambition. It sets itself the task of providing an overview of the human condition with Pummell and his researchers trawling through film, video, and television archives, as well as drawing on home movies.
"A PANORAMIC MOSAIC"
All together the footage forms a panoramic mosaic underpinned by a haunting score from Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood. It doesn’t come with any guiding voiceover, although the diverse material is carefully structured into different passages: birth, growth, adolescence, sex, violence, death, and ultimately renewal and transcendence.
The more shocking imagery includes mounds of corpses from a concentration camp, and a South Vietnamese police chief executing a suspect. But to their credit, Pummell and co have drawn on an eclectic range of sources, from Saudi TV to early Russian cinema. And by changing the context of the source material, much of what had previously been seen in news bulletins and current affairs programmes is used to show how our perceptions and responses as spectators are far from fixed.
Sometimes the flow of imagery can feel repetitive and even overwhelming, despite the crisp running time. Yet at Bodysong's heart lies an interesting paradox: highlighting rituals, celebrations, and initiations that occur in societies all around the world, it suggests how our most personal experiences actually affirm our common humanity.