These Living Book Covers Are As Magical As Anything In Harry Potter

Well, we think so.

For book and art lovers, one of the most magical details J.K. Rowling included in the Harry Potter universe must have been the living pictures and photographs that hung on walls and filled newspapers.

The rise of GIFs has brought this fantastical idea closer to reality than ever, as shown by a series of animated classic book covers created by Chilean artist Javier Jensen. 

“I think everyone, at some point in life, we ​​have looked at the cover of the books imagining what happens inside,” Jensen told The Huffington Post via email. “I wanted to reflect what you see when you look deeply.”

The light touch he applies to the animation of the covers is just enough to breathe life into the familiar still images. A tendril of smoke drifts from Sherlock Holmes’s pipe. Clouds float by the mountains that adorn the cover of The Hobbit, while three large birds soar across the sky. The Great Gatsby blinks.

Jensen isn’t the first or last to use the GIF to reinvigorate a familiar work of art -- see below examples of rather rough manipulations of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” -- but he suspects the far reaches of what animated GIFs can do in the art world have yet to be discovered. "The technology that exists today gives us many alternatives that have not been exploited," said Jensen. 

Jensen, art director for the marketing firm Geometry Global, created the book cover GIFs in his free time, but has also used the format in professional work. “You do not get bored of watching them,” he said, predicting more widespread use of GIFs in the future. “The disadvantage is its weight, and often the images lose a lot of quality, but in the not too distant future I imagine that these obstacles will be overcome.”

GIF technology will, very likely, never realize the magic of Rowling’s moving pictures, which can shift in constantly new and changing ways, with people in the images even visiting other pictures or talking to humans. But we’ll always have the magic of our imagination -- and the extra dash of intrigue added by creative artists like Jensen.

 Check out more of Jensen's alluring book covers below:

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