Thursday, May 9, 2013

'Babeldom': Poetic Elegy to Urban Life

A  talent to watch, London-born Paul Bush is an experimental filmmaker and stop-frame animator with a background in fine art. He began making shorts in the 1980s and, following considerable critical acclaim, turned to filmmaking in the 1990s. In 1996, he founded Ancient Mariner Productions to produce his films, which he currently finances primarily with lecture fees, workshops, and teaching. 

In his debut feature-length (81-minute) film Babeldom, which he wrote, produced, and directed, Bush creates a portrait of a city of the future as narrated by one of its inhabitants. Described as a "science fiction documentary", the movie is a collage of sorts, assembled from film shot in cities around the world, including London, Berlin, Barcelona, Shanghai, Dubai, and Osaka, as well as from "found footage", that is, moving images collected from recent research in science, technology, industry, and architecture. In his Director's Notes, found toward the end of this News page, Bush explains, "The central metaphor of Babeldom is that all of time is present at the same moment, captured in different layers of the city. The prehistoric lies beneath the Roman, the Roman below the Medieval. We too are buried below countless centuries in which the city has built upwards like a futuristic Tower of Babel. As in Boethius's vision, all of time can be seen at once, if only one could view the city from outside, but each of us is destined to live our lives in one small layer of the city, unable to move lower or higher more than a few levels. . . ."

Have a look at the trailer for this fascinating conceptual film, which was completed in 2012 and was shown earlier this year in the United Kingdom and also screened in Lisbon at the animated film festival Monstra:

To see extracts from selected shorts and some longer films, including The Albatross (1998), Furniture Poetry (1999), While Darwin Sleeps (2004), and Lay Bare (2012), go here. Bush's The Albatross is a beautiful animation of 19th Century wood engravings of Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, brought to life by scratching directly on the color film stock. The five-minute-long Furniture Poetry is an amusing play on the concept of "now you see it, now you don't". Lay Bare is a composite portrait of the human body, assembled from close-up images of more than 500 men and women from all over the world. His While Darwin Sleeps, in which thousands of insects pass through the film, each for a single frame, is on view with the Walter Linsenmaier exhibition of insects at the Natural History Museum in Lucerne, Switzerland. (See the film on YouTube.) Various university and college libraries in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, China, Switzerland, and Austria have Bush's titles in their holdings.

1 comment:

Louise Gallagher said...

Wow fascinating!

what an amazing mind he must inhabit.