Chris Cunningham’s “All is full of Love” Treatment
ALL IS FULL OF LOVE
BY CHRIS CUNNINGHAM
Against black we hear the faint sound of electricity gently surging. All around us, banks of fluorescent lights, behind Plexiglas flicker to life at random, illuminating an elegant, pristine white environment. It has a Japanese feel to it, a simplicity in its design. As we track forwards we are dwarfed on either side by two enormous medical/industrial robots. In unison they sweep around towards a workspace littered with eggshell-white plastic parts. As we get closer the parts become more visible and reveal an organic nature, their shapes resemble humanoid forms. From above we see clearly a female form in a fetal position completely abstracted and disassembled. Although it is artificial it is beautiful and elegant. The machines set to work in extreme slow motion. Their arms gracefully engaging with the incomplete human form, removing and adding parts to the partially hollow plastic shell and its matt black complex inner workings. Although only the front portion is in place its features are clearly those of Bjärk’s, albeit the smoothed panels of a Japanese motorbike. The eyes open as the robotic arms construct consciousness. Warm orange sparks fly against the cold blue white plastic. It feels like we are watching the last stages of an artificial intelligence’s birth. As it starts to sing, the elegance of the song and the imagery is contrasted by the abstractions caused by this incomplete form. It never quite becomes whole. As the track unfolds so too does the imagery developing in stages. The figure, still incomplete is upright now. Its hand reaching up to touch its own face. We reveal more of the scene. Gently white fluid, like milk starts to wash over the forms and eventually engulfs it (this would be achieved by submerging the forms in a vat of milk and draining it off, filmed in reverse). When the form emerges from the vat we reveal that it is number two in a series. Still with Björk’s features, the two ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCES begin to engage with one another. Locked together in a surreal embrace, parts intertwined and fused, we concentrate now on details, kissing, slow motion white fluid, fluorescent light. The imagery is slowly becoming more sexual but way too surreal and abstract to be offensive. We see the plastic bodies begin to unfold like strange flowers. The last sequence of shots as we pull back very wide reveal an indescribably abstract life form made from the two unfolded, artificial, humanoid forms. It’s like Kama Sutra meets Industrial Robotics .
The shots in this video will not be as difficult as you might imagine. The main performance aspect of the video would involve attaching blue panels to Björk’s body and replacing these areas with model parts filmed against the same background. This will give the illusion of her being hollow, completely artificial. We would shoot everything as a lock off. As we approach the finale, the shots would possibly start to include a mixture of computer graphics and live action, used seamlessly to depict these robots unfolding. A lot of preparatory work would be needed and some compositing but the shot would be very simple. I am convinced that this would make an extroadinary surreal performance video. The imagery would be majestic and we could be sexually suggestive as we like and get away with it.
“My initial idea was to have a final stage where the two robots unfold like a flower as they mate,” says Chris Cunningham. “We couldn’t manage it, but perhaps it’s just as well, as the music doesn’t really allow for it.” The robots were built by Paul Catling, who also sculpted the masks for Windowlicker. Catling, who taught Cunningham about model-making, sculpted the full-sized robots in clay in two hours.Cunningham worked with Julian Caldow on the set design, and it was put together by Chris Oddy. But the director says, “To be perfectly honest I didn’t have time to make the set look exactly as I wanted it, so I made it post heavy.” For example, on the shoot there were two main robot arms (operated simply by rods), but in post production, a third and fourth robot arm were created in CGI at Glassworks. “I think I lost confidence that there was enough happening,” admits Cunningham, and this put pressure on an already six-figure budget. But the results are amazing: it’s impossible to tell what is “real” and what is not. This also applies to the work on the Björk robot. First of all the robot was shot in situ without its head, then Björk was put in the same position to match her head with the robot body. But only her eyes and mouth were actually used - the rest of the robot head is 3D, tracked from her real one.
End of transmission.