Dr. Hugo: Body Language Sequences

Dr. Hugo Heyrman’s online selection of short video loops offers a glimpse on the complexities of human behaviour and interactions. An intriguing mixture of urban anthropscrn18seq1ology and behavioral psychology, Heyrman’s work combines the elements of a virtual siteseeing tour exploring the streets of Antwerp, Netherlands, with the aesthetics of choppy motion loops – micro shorts, as Dr. Hugo calls them. The online work is part of Dr. Hugo’s Museums of the Mind.

Dr. Hugo’s body language video loops continue a tradition going back to the earliest photographic motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey in the second half of the 19th century. The aesthetic and cognitive effect of their work is strongly shaped and informed by the analytic vision of Frederick Taylor’s motion studies at the onset of the 20th century.

Published in 1911, Taylor’s studies in the scientific managment of motion aimed to find more effecient labor processes through the application of the methods available to 19th century science. A century later, the psychology underlying body language is at the center of a new interpretation of human motion studies.

The structure of Dr. Hugo’s micro-shorts (self-contained video loops) introduces a visual experience that suggests more of a digital impressionism than the non-selective vision of objective science.

On his website, Dr. Hugo describes the project in greater detail:

‘What human beings tell with their bodies’ 
A net art project of ultra-short films

by Dr. Hugo Heyrman
Antwerp, 01.02.03

In the Body Language Sequences I walk through the streets of Antwerp City, to investigate how people differ from each other, how people are using ‘silent language’ and ‘personal space’. I am interested in the temporality of speed, acceleration, slowness and pause. How ‘sub-movements’ are expressed. How motion precedes emotion.

Up to 90% of all of our communication is nonverbal. The direct actions of the human nervous system are usually subconscious, instinctively meaningful and more honest than verbal communication.

Bodies do not lie. The ‘subliminal’ messages of the body are playing a major role in how we relate to others and how they see us. Our bodies are the most public signals of our identities, and private reminders of who we are. We imagine by remembering, or vice versa.

In the ritual quality of interpersonal actions there is a hidden code of behavioural patterns, through which hierarchical and social power structures emerge. The body language sequences of the human figure in motion, are a display of our motives in the flow of time.

The Body Language Sequences are a cinematic study of visualising and discovering time patterns of interpersonal behaviour. The revealed moments are giving an insight in the instinctive feelings, attitudes, expressions, gestures and emotions of human communication. In a series of experimental ultra-short films, each looped sequence draws attention to its own syntax —a rhythmic pattern of body language in motion.

These visible acts of meaning are a search into what people tell with their bodies. During the montage I saw the world differently. I became aware that I was also documenting the diversity of changes in life style as an emerging element in society.

The re-entered world became transposed, intensified, electrified. It was my intention to study the human character by exploring the micro-motions of human acts, extracted from the flux of life, and to convey a message which brings an articulation of visual thinking into play.





Shot on location, at crossroads and streets in the City of Antwerpen, Belgium.

Dr. Hugo Heyrman’s Museum of the Mind


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This story first appeared on digitalsouls.com on Feb.18, 2006

Artist, philosopher, social impact entrepreneur. Editor of DIGITALSOULS.COM.
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