Last week’s short was an example of how animation can expand a single moment into something bigger. Ismael Sanz-Pena’s Persistence of Vision series does something similar, but in an entirely different way. Where 00:08 takes advantage of the potential of a hand-drawn image, Persistence of Vision is about pattern and repetition. Based on a single, static image of Norway’s Nidaros Cathedral, it uses clever editing to bring the cathedral’s facade to life.

If you’ll indulge a tangent: There’s an old quote that’s been attributed to various folks over the years, from Frank Zappa to Brian Eno to Elvis Costello, that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. The idea being that the experience of a work of art can never be truly translated into another medium—that there are qualitative aspects that are inherent to a particular art form that can’t be expressed in any other way.

There’s two ways to read that. One is that writing about music, and dancing about architecture, is ridiculous and futile. A more open-minded reading, though, is to take it as a statement of fact, or even a challenge, and not a value judgement. Going from one medium to another will never be a one-to-one translation, but it’s still an interesting exercise that might help create something new.

Persistence of Vision, to me, is architecture dancing. Not just the illusion of motion in the statues, but the life that the film brings to each element of the cathedral. The shifting of the archways, the fluttering of the florets, even the ebb and flow of the aged stone walls. It’s a glimpse at the energy and vitality the architect imbued in their design. Even though the building is static, all it takes is the right eye to witness how much life is in it, after all.


Persistence of Vision III

dir: Ismael Sanz-Pena

syn: An animated short film made with just one image exploring the dancing potential of the still sculptures at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway.

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