[-empyre-] Greetings!

Timothy Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Wed Feb 3 14:22:45 EST 2010

>Thanks, Tom, for providing such a precise summary of your theory of 
>the movement of animation.

Could you say a little more about "the multiplanar image" and also 
elaborate on how it anticipates the digital image?

Thanks so much.


>Since Renate has already introduced me, I am happy to bypass 
>self-introduction and throw out some ideas about animation.
>Since my research on animation is centred on movement, I thought 
>maybe to begin with a few words about what I think is at stake in 
>looking at animation in terms of movement.  When I begun writing 
>about animation, I was surprised at how rarely people have actually 
>explored the question of movement in animation.  We often sing the 
>praises of movement in animation, and it is pretty much assumed that 
>the attractiveness of animation comes of movement.  Yet a sustained 
>discussion of movement has been largely avoided.  This is a shame 
>because I think that animation creators think first and foremost 
>with movement.
>Discussions of animation usually dwell on image (formal) analysis or 
>the 'illusion of life.'  The illusion-of-life approach calls 
>attention to the potential for an experience of the uncanny that 
>arises when something that is supposed to be inorganic or inert 
>comes to life.  In other words, in both approaches, there is a 
>general bias that animation is a matter of adding movement to images 
>or things that are already out there.  Movement is treated as 
>secondary to image, as a supplement to it.
>But in animation (as in cinema) movement is something in itself. And 
>moving images are not illusions of movement.  They are real 
>experiences of movement.  In other words, if we rely on a 
>real/unreal or real/illusion divide, we won't get very far in 
>understanding animation (or cinema or video games).
>Once we give priority to movement, it becomes clear that we can't 
>confine movement in animation to character animation.  In fact, I 
>think that too much attention has been focused on character 
>animation rather than the force of the moving image. If we begin 
>with the force of the moving image rather than with the gaps between 
>frames, we see that animation is as much an art of compositing as it 
>is of animating bodies.  In fact, I would argue that animation gives 
>priority to compositing (the movement between layers within images 
>that then becomes spread across frames) over character animation 
>(based on the movement between or across images).  In this respect, 
>because it is based on what I like to call the multiplanar image, 
>so-called traditional animation anticipates the dynamics of the 
>digital image.  This is especially true of limited cel animation.
>It is precisely for this reason that animation can frequently said 
>be subsuming cinema today-as Lev Manovich has famously noted. But 
>this is not a matter of the formal properties of animation (as is 
>often supposed in new media studies) but of an 'animetic machine' 
>that harnesses a specific potential of the moving image.
>It is on this basis that I think we can understand both the ubiquity 
>of animation today and the crucial role that it plays in media mix.
>empyre forum
>empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

Timothy Murray
Director, Society for the Humanities
Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
A. D. White House
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853

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