The Scientist removes the sleeping Muse from the inflating plastic shell she is introduced in, pulling back the gel that is covering her, applying lotions and potions of various colors and content. He lifts her and engulfs her in golden orange liquid. She accepts it all.
The search for beauty can overwhelm. It can sneak into the corners of your mind as you sleep, curl up, and fester there or, it can stomp forward, brandishing mascara wands and the eyelash curlers. Beauty is desirable, interesting, strange; a weird combination of qualities and characteristics—physical and psychological—that change constantly.
Directed by Australian artist and self-deemed “body architect” Lucy McRae in collaboration with Australian skin care brand Aesop, Morphe presents the relationship between scientist, muse and skin in a short film which does away with the distraction of dialogue, yet is filled with visual stimuli that hint at the plot. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Charles Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty the film explores the relationships between the Scientist and the Muse featured and, more broadly, human’s relationship with skin.
Discussing the film, McRae explains the influence of German physician and physicist, Herman von Hemholtz. She quotes, “A human being is like a rubber ball wrapped in an extremely delicate membrane. Different areas of the ball’s surface elicit different senses. Our image of the world is based on the multi-various stimuli that are perceived on the membrane and transmitted to the ball’s nucleus, the brain.” In Morphe, McRae attempts to explore this, the reactions humans have to what their skin meets, yet the films suggests almost an opposite of this as the Muse has little to no reaction to the many odd, unexplained treatments that the “delicate membrane” of her skin is experiencing, supposedly all to enhance her beauty.
What remains most fascinating about this film is not the three and a half minutes of it but how McRae explains it, what her concept is. On its own, the film is a strange and visually stimulating few minutes that, while interesting, barely suggests the expansive ideas McRae has behind the images.