World Festival of Animated Film /
short and feature edition 4 to 9 June 2018
World Festival of Animated Film / short and feature edition 4 to 9 June 2018
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Phidias the Animator. Movement Analysis in the Parthenon’s Frieze – Georges Sifianos (ENSAD Paris, France)

It is widely acknowledged that Phidias was one of the greatest sculptors of Classical Greece. However, what has not been recognised is that he also seemed to be an expert on movement analysis, expertise which was used in the conception of the frieze of the Parthenon, as a basic structural feature. This movement analysis is so concrete that the figure positions remind one of the actual ‘key positions’ of an animation film.

With the aid of specially-prepared films, my aim in this presentation is to unfold the ‘hidden’ animations which reveal Phidias’ intention and expertise and indicate that Phidias was an excellent animator over two thousand years before the animation cinema.

But, even if Phidias’ animations are touching perfection, he was not the ‘first’ animator ever. Interest on movement analysis is known since prehistoric caves. What is new here, is that in ancient Egypt too, we can find movement analysis used in various compositions. A huge research area not yet explored…

In addition to revealing the covert movements between figures and forms, which extend throughout the composition of the Parthenon’s frieze, it will also be shown that the figures appear to follow a complex rhythmical development similar to that of a piece of music, and particularly that of a contrapuntal composition. (In Egypt as well as in Persepolis, it seems that compositions are music-like oriented more than just on movement).

Finally, I would like to suggest that the implicit movement which runs through the shapes as a kind of ‘reading between the lines’ in the Parthenon’s frieze, is of philosophical significance.

Georges Sifianos Ph.D. was born in Greece in 1952. He is a filmmaker and a professor at ENSAD (Paris) where he founded the Animation Studies in 1995. He has given series of lectures at universities in Europe, India, Korea, Japan and China. His book Aesthetics of Animation Cinema received the McLaren-Lambart Award (2014) and the Hemingway Grand (2015). He is interested in the aesthetics and the renewal of the animation cinema, particularly under the light of Cognitive Sciences. His recent research focuses on forms of animation found on the Parthenon frieze. His films include: C'est Môa, animation, 12’ (2007), Tutu, animation, 27’ (2001), Scent of City, animation, 8’ (1994), Petrochemicals, the Cathedrals of the Desert, documentary, 81’ (1981), Smile, animation, 2’ (1974).