Director and Animator
Botanical Garden Library
Illustrations from the Rare Book Library
1995-2005 Missouri Botanical Garden
"The Cycle of Life" is a digital animation that employs a metaphor of botanical growth to represent human stages of life. A solitary figure walks forward through a line of inexplicable machines; approaching, absorbing and moving on. Through a clever twist, the final stage of life precedes the beginning.
opening scene shows a man ascending the stairs of neo-classical museum promoting
an exhibit entitled “The Cycle of Life,” as indicated by a large
hanging banner. The viewer enters a hall containing display cases filled
with old books and exhibits presenting botanical growth stages. The camera
zooms in closely to an old botanical print illustrating the pollination
process. Juxtaposed to this image is an inexplicable animated machine. This
type of association is then repeated with additional exhibits and machines.
The stages of life - Pollination, Germination, Growth, Seed Production,
Maturity, Longevity, Disease and Death, and Decomposition - are presented
first as a botanical print or exhibit, then as an unlikely machine. Eventually
it becomes apparent that the machines comprise a slowly moving linear arrangement
within a huge undefined space. A suited man with a large square hole in
his midsection walks along and, in turn,“absorbs” and
"ejects" each machine along the line.
After reaching the last machine (Decomposition), the man turns to a pole and presses a red button. All the machines stop moving and the lights dim. He turns around and runs back to the beginning of the line and “re-absorbs” the first machine (Pollination/Inception). After returning to the beginning and pressing the button, the line of machines resets in a way that all the machines are in front of him once again. He returns to his trek, after briefly waiting for the Pollination/Inception machine to restart. The last scene revisits the museum to show a similiar man looking at all the machines in a large cabinet now labeled with human stages – Inception, Birth, Infancy, Adolescence, Maturity, Old Age, Infirmity, Death and Decomposition.