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Pacific Sun, a stop-motion film by photographer Thomas Demand, begins screening in the lobby level of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum this weekend. Demand constructs and photographs elaborate paper sets, inspired by real locations in world news and everyday life. The extreme finesse of his paper reproductions make it difficult to distinguish between the real and the constructed. Demand destroys his sets after photographing them, their ephemerality embodying what Roland Barthes called photography’s “dive into literal Death.”


From the exhibition statement:

Pacific Sun—made in Los Angeles while Demand was a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute—derives from security-camera footage, circulated via YouTube, of the chaos inside a cruise ship weathering a storm in the South Pacific: chairs, tables, bottles, cartons, and people careened as the ship lurched. Intrigued by these complex movements, Demand decided to re-create the video, minus the people, by constructing and animating a life-size paper model. The soundtrack, created after the film’s completion, evokes tumbling objects and the rolling sea. Pacific Sun is an ambitious and provocative work examining society’s willing acceptance of mass-media imagery as a substitute for actual experience. Projected at full scale, Demand’s film immerses viewers in a moment that, while seeming familiar, is totally fabricated.

A brief clip from Pacific Sun:

You can see all of Pacific Sun at LACMA with the full quality of a film projector until April 12.

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