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

Timothy Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Fri Feb 5 00:42:18 EST 2010

>Hi, Tom,

Your suggest that animation has migrated from image development to 
movement is fascinating.    I'm wondering how you would distinguish 
animation from cinema or even video in this regard.  Is there a 
fundamental difference if we think of movement as the 'thing'?

And could you say more about your suggestion that affect is crucial 
to judging how layers move across media, even transnationally.  Is 
your concept of affect tied to motion/movement itself, or need it be 
related also to narrative and to the national/transnational 
distinctions that narrative (and image) often foreground.

I know that there is strong interest across the -empyre- community in 
the linkage between affect/narrative/movement, so it would also be 
interesting to hear from other subscribers who migth have specific 
projects of animation in mind, such as the performative display of 
transnationalism, say, in the interactive animations of Tamiko Thiel 
or in the sexual disjunctions of Sadie Benning.

Any thoughts?


>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 
>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 
>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.

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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