Ghosts in the machine: experiencing animation

Book chapter

Buchan, S. 2011. Ghosts in the machine: experiencing animation. in: Hilty, G. (ed.) Watch Me Move: The Animation Show London Merrell. pp. 28-38
Chapter titleGhosts in the machine: experiencing animation
AuthorsBuchan, S.

Catalogue Essay for Watch Me Move: The Animation Show, Barbican, London, 2011. Summary: There are many stories, and histories, of animation film. Yet there are other ways of telling a story of animation that peel back and go below the material, historical and factual surface of this cinematic technique. Because the seven thematic concepts of Watch Me Move have a specific thematic focus, it allows permeation between different animation techniques and historically and stylistically discrete canons. This essay concentrates on four of the themes that consider the viewer's experience of animation: apparitions, structures, fragments and visions. Many works in these themes share certain features, properties and experiential phenomena for viewers. They tend to: undermine conventional narrative; lack dialogue and are sound and music driven; feature imaginative, impossible 'worlds' and non-anthropomorphic figures; offer philosophical?perceptual concepts that diverge from our everyday experience of 'reality', and they are often self-reflexive. Tex Avery, one of the most radical Hollywood cartoon directors, is purported to have said "You can do anything in an animated cartoon." Looking beyond the cartoon, this essay reveals the fabulous experimentation of some of the exhibition's works that fall outside the realm of commercial popular culture, foregrounding the viewers' experience of the creative imagination that the animated form presents.

Keywordsanimation, curatorship, exhibitions, experimental film, spectatorship
Research GroupElectronic and Digital Arts cluster
Visual Culture and Curating cluster
Page range28-38
Book titleWatch Me Move: The Animation Show
EditorsHilty, G.
Place of publicationLondon
Publication dates
PrintJun 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Mar 2013
Output statusPublished
Additional information

In the decades since the pioneers of film first began to explore the possibilities of the moving image, animation has evolved into one of the most popular and prevalent visual art forms. Featuring an extensive selection of animated imagery created over the past 150 years, essays by animation experts, and biographies of the leading studios and animators, Watch Me Move is an indispensible guide to the dynamic world of animation and its significance in contemporsry global culture. Published on the occassion of the exhibition Watch Me Move: The Animation Show at the Barbican Art Gallery (15th June to 11th September 2011). £24.95 Paperback with flaps ISBN: 9781858945583, 224 pages, 225 colour illustrations.

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