February on empyre soft-skinned space:  Theorizing Animation:  Concept and Context

Moderated by Renate Ferro (US) and Tim Murray
with invited discussants Thomas LaMarre (CA), Lev Manovich (UK), Susan Buchan (UK), Paul Ward (UK), Eric Patrick (US), Richard Wright (UK), Thyrza  Nichols Goodeve (US), Christopher Sullivan (US), with others to be announced.

Theorizing Animation: Concept and Context

Animated worlds are proliferating globally. In consideration of what seems like an explosion of online and museum exhibitions celebrating animation, we would like to spend the month considering the intersection between art, animation, and theory.

While some of our guests theorize cinematic interventions in animation (timely given the success of “Avatar”) others create, curate, and ponder the experimental narratives and “animated paintings” that have captured the curiosity of the art world. What are the advantages of creating and thinking through animation? How do real worlds and virtual worlds overlap? What about the trend to feature animation in museum contexts, often at the expense of digitally interactive work which might be more expense to mount and opaque to witness? Can a critical distinction be made between blockbuster animation and boutique creations, often with more poignant narrative content?

Earlier this fall, Tim marveled at the extent to which animation was featured in the Asia Art Biennial in Taiwan, with fascinating pieces by the Israeli filmmaker, Ari Folman and the Russian collective AES+F, as well as a separate show of Korean animation at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art.

That is now followed by the “Animamix Biennial-Visual Attract and Attack” now ongoing at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taiwan. The cross platform solo exhibitions also have caught the eye of much of the museum public. Tim and Renate visited Sadie Benning’s (USA) essay on queer sexuality in Pause Play at the Whitney Museum in New York and look forward to William Kentridge’s (South Africa) Five Themes exhibition, a survey of almost thirty-years of work including many animated films, that opened last season at the MOMA San Francisco and will be at MOMA New York at the end of this month.

Kentridge’s work explores themes of colonialism and apartheid often through lyrical and comedic lenses that sometimes poke fun at the artist himself. His work merges the real world into animation and back again. Just this week Cornell hosted an extravaganza of The Quay Brother’s film work with an exhibition of their set design. It was exciting to hear them talk about their work in several on campus forums.

This month we invite our guests and subscribers to engage critically with the development of animation. We will be inviting artists and theorists to consider the concepts and context of contemporary global animation. We look forward to this months international discussion of all things animated.