Viewers wondering how the director of this extraordinary piece, Frédéric Bonpapa, managed to get a monkey to sit still as the room around him fills up with flying objects should know that the filmmaker is a CG artist. “Light Motif” is the Frenchman’s debut as a director and a testament to his skills as an animator and visual effects expert.
The piece is a trippy visual translation of “Music for 18 Musicians – Section II”, a minimalist but syncopated composition by Steve Reich completed in 1976. Bonpapa has chosen the simple elements of light, surface and basic geometric shapes to give form to Reich’s repetitive, heightened soundscape.
As coloured light reflects off flat surfaces and transparent balls roll and bounce around the room, the film resembles a series of colour-drenched abstract compositions. Rectangular and square blocks pile up as the music reaches a crescendo, forming perfectly geometric stalagmites surrounding the motionless monkey.
And though at times the film feels overstimulating to the point of needing a warning for epilepsy sufferers, there is something quite meditative about it. Perhaps it’s the monkey’s self-containment, or the journey from empty room to miniature cityscape and back to empty room evoking the mind’s movement from stillness to vascillating thoughts, and back to peace again. Monkey mind, indeed.