Videos

Timelapse of the Day: A Trip Around Paris

Mayeul Akpovi's cameras travel as they shoot, sliding through the freeze-framed city.

Image
Irene Tong/Flickr

It is at once the easiest and the hardest thing, to photograph Paris. Easy to access its beauty; easy to shake the layers of history and culture from the landmarks and rustle the viewer's web of associations. Hard - so hard - to pry something new and original from a city whose visual landscape is famous both for its relentless documentation and resistance to change.

That said, this new video from photographer Mayeul Akpovi, "Paris in Motion (Part I)," offers a fresh take. Akpovi, born in Benin and based in the Burgundy city of Besancon, uses a variety of cameras and techniques to create a time-lapse video of Paris.  

Practitioners of the time-lapse video tend to ride the novelty value hard, setting a steady, quick frame rate so that the finished product resembles a tribute to the frenetic, hand-cranked videos of cinema's early days, or the ruffle of a flipbook. But, as Akpovi demonstrates, there's a lot more to the medium than that. The title is apt: the movement of his tripod, across a bridge with the speed of a motorcycle, or along a plaza with the steadiness of a rail-bound tracking shot, invigorates a familiar practice.

The convention is to turn people into scurrying mice (often with the aid of tilt-shift); Akpovi captures them up close, relishing their common gestures and poses. They flutter calmly through the frame, make this Paris more real than the zombie terrain of landmark postcards but pleasantly removed from the tourist-crowded city.

Best of all, the title implies that there may be more on the way. Full screen recommended.

Paris In Motion (Part I) from Mayeul Akpovi on Vimeo.

Top image: Flickr user Irene Tong.

Via Colossal.

About the Author

  • Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.