Week 9 Response: Body Language

Rachel Mayeri’s Primate Cinema, specifically Baboons as Friends, reminded me about the fact that humans and primates are not that different at all. Our DNA’s are greater than 97% similar to primates after all. The side by side comparisons between the two species in Baboons as Friends made obvious that the storyline enacted by the primates could be easily replicable by humans and was something that is fully understandable and believable to viewers. This was possible even though the human reenactment had no dialogue. I believe that viewers were able to comprehend the storyline through the body language of the human actors.
Doctor Hugo Heyrman explores the idea of body language, essentially what human beings tell with their bodies in his project, Body Language Sequences. He presumes that up to 90% of all communications between humans are nonverbal and that bodies do not lie. Our bodies send subliminal messages, which greatly affect how we relate to each other and how they view us. The Body Language Sequences includes a series of experimental ultra-short films that captured the variety in human behavior. It is a cinematic study to discover patterns in human behaviors and to give insight to feelings, attitudes, expressions, gestures, and emotions that are rich within human communication. Heyrman studied the “micro-motions” of human acts in order to get a better understanding of human character and discovered diversity existed in life styles, but no matter what every action was recognizable.
One looping clip (about a second long like the rest) featured a man expressing what seems to be anger at another man. Because of the looping of the ultra-short clip, the viewer realizes how much movement has happened within blahthat one second. The man leans forwards to seem assertive. He pulls his hands out of his pocket in an explanatory gesture. His brows are furrowed, expressing frustration. And his mouth is smile-less and opens wide, so viewers can infer that the man is yelling and is unhappy. The other man stands up straight and keeps a straight face, but opens his mouth midway to interrupt- in a sense, defending himself when necessary. All this was gathered from a one second clip and anyone who saw could easily identify that there is a dispute between the two men.
Another clip replays a girl sitting on a ledge surrounded by rose petals and blahplaying with some of those petals. Her body movement suggests playfulness and the carefreeness associated with children. The way crossed-legged way she sits combined with her seemingly dancing/bouncing truly depicts youthfulness. She lifts the petals and the viewer can almost hear her singing a song.
The various clips, although amazingly short, are able to capture the intent of each person in the clip because of the subjects’ specific body language. Every part of a person’s body plays a role in enabling other people to “read” that person. Body language lets people understand each other without any dialogue exchanged. It is amazing that this concept is an inherent part of life not only for us, but for other species too. We are able to understand the basics between certain species; it’s a wonder if other species understand us too.

– Crystal Nguyen



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