Thomas Demand began to make films around 1999. Often showing ‘familiar’ subjects; falling rain, the perpetual motion of an escalator, or the relentless movement of a CCTV camera; his film work is quite mesmerising. The films are produced using stop-motion animation, an extraordinarily labour-intensive process of constructing moving images by photographing one frame at a time. This involves taking one shot, then slightly moving each element on the set and photographing the scene again, repeatedly. When projected in sequence these individual images contrive to create illusion of almost natural movement.
Pacific Sun is a short film that recreates the below footage captured on a CCTV camera. The film shows the moment in July 2008 when the P&O cruise ship Pacific Sun was hit by a giant swell that caused it to tip wildly from side to side. Over the one hundred seconds of the film we see an initially subtle movement that escalates to violent swaying as the full force of a huge wave hits the ship. Projected at a height of more than three metres, Pacific Sun is an immersive viewing experience comprising 2400 individual images. When projected on a loop it recreates a moment in time over and over again. The very ordinariness of the setting Demand depicts in this work – the ubiquitous bar on a cruise ship – is juxtaposed with the unexpected things that have occurred. He shows the moment when the ‘ordinary’ became ‘extraordinary’.