[-empyre-] visualization as the new language of theory

Thomas LaMarre, Prof. thomas.lamarre at mcgill.ca
Thu Feb 4 02:30:54 EST 2010

Hi Renate,

If I could intervene...

I think this is precisely where the question of movement and the analytics of movement is crucial.

It is often said by scholars in Japan that character design has replaced character animation; in fact, they say, there is so much emphasis on design and typography that animation itself is vanishing.  This has almost become established wisdom. Yet within the animation and video game industries in Japan theses days (and remember these remain really large industries) they say that, if there is not the same kind of movement attributed to characters with the frame (by thinking across frames), it is in order to allow them to flash across media.   In other words, I don't think that this is something that can be measured.  Although I am really interested in the sort of cultural analytics that Lev presented, I think that they avoid the question of movement, and thus a host of other issues that we now associate with poststructuralism and deconstruction.  That sort of analytics is ultimately data about images.

In animation, movement introduces questions about sites of indeterminacy which are where interactions happen.  This is where one can speak of a affect and of a field for the emergence of power formations.

I previously mentioned that multiplanar image, because it is with the layering of sheets of celluloid to produce animation that limited animators in Japan discovered that the actual design of image layers mattered less than the movement between them.  This doesn't mean that they give up on design.  In fact, design and typography became even more pronounced.  But by moving away from animating characters and other entities, they found that the design became mobile across media, as if suppressing movement at one level allowed them to impart movement at another level (across media).  This explains a great deal about why Japanese animations enjoy such success in distribution through internet fansubs and scanlations (adding new layers of design).  It is about the movement of layers across media, even transnationally.  And affect becomes really crucial to gauging this.  Because you can't suppress movement at one level and enhance it at another without fundamentally changing interactions.

There is a wonderful animated film - toL's Tamala 2010 - that plays with these dynamics, partly as an avant-garde critique of circuits of production and distribution of animation, partly as a perfect expression of it.


Professeur titulaire
Études est-asiatiques & Communications
Université McGill
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Montréal, QC H3A 1X9

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On 03/02/10 8:17 AM, "Renate Ferro" <rtf9 at cornell.edu> wrote:


Thanks Lev and Tom for your introductions to your work and the links.  I
wanted to ask Lev how he felt  the data in Cultural Analysis manipulation
differed from the concerns of  modernist, formalist art criticism where
line, value, texture, or color were analyzed? In what ways is the data
different and how does the computer manipulation enhance our understanding
of say Rothko's work using the first links example.

The other thing that popped into my mind was an observation I made a few
Sunday afternoons ago.  It is not uncommon that the sports networks are on
in our home especially during Super Bowl playoff season.  NFL Fox football
has a moving graphic animation of a he man football robot named Cleatus of
things that is cast off the frame of the playing screen.  Cleatus dances,
points to interesting items on the screen, and entertains sports
enthusiasts reminding me that cultural art theorists may need to
investigate contemporary typography and graphics but  sex, gender, race
and politics desperately needs to be remembered in deconstructing todays
popular culture and tv graphics...moving or stil!.

What do you think? Can post-modernist theoretical concerns be a part of
new design? This is a question that I've been wrestling with in light of
curriculum changes within the university where there is a resurgence of
interest in graphics, typography and animation.


Renate Ferro
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Art
Cornell University, Tjaden Hall
Ithaca, NY  14853

Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
Website:  http://www.renateferro.net

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