HD Video projection.  Black and White, silent.


"Instruction painting separates painting into two different functions: the instructions and the realization. The work becomes a reality only when others realize the work."  Yoko Ono.


A film script is little more than an instruction to the many artists working on a film as to how to make a film.  But in this work, the film will never be made, the instructions will never be transformed into images, and the viewer is obliged to see the film by reading it.


The Persistence of Vision was inspired by the apparent pre-eminence of text in contemporary communications, and, at the same time, by its inefficiency as a means of delivering nuanced information. In this 'filmed' screenplay, each word flashes on and off on a ticker, and seems to 'persist' in the mind's eye as the next one appears, creating a continuity of sense for the viewer/reader.


The work is apparently dependent in its aesthetic on the 'persistence of vision', which, although now evidently discredited as a physiological phenomenon, was nevertheless widely considered within film criticism to be fundamental to the aesthetic of cinema itself.

The script, which was written by the artist, revolves around a lonely Gaelic-speaking boy in the nineteenth century Hebrides whose obsession with his reflection leads him into conflict, jeopardy, and finally friendship with an outsider, an English-speaking girl.  The narrative is preoccupied with ideas of looking (as is the cinema), selfhood and otherness, and, as neither character can speak coherently to the other, about the inadequacy of language.


The film screened in the Ayrshire Open Studios in April 2014;  as part of "Outside the Box', Paul Holmes's solo show, at Studio 21, Kolkata, June 2015; at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow in December 2016; and in a retrospective of his video work at the Little Cinema International Film Festival, Theatre for Experiments in New Technologies, Kolkata December 2017.


Dur: 20 min 35 secs, looped.


Watch The Persistence of Vision on Vimeo.  Please email for a password.


Gaelic translation by Patsi MacKenzie.


Website and all images and text, unless otherwise attributed, © 2020 Paul Holmes.