[-empyre-] animetic machines

Thomas LaMarre, Prof. thomas.lamarre at mcgill.ca
Mon Feb 8 02:53:35 EST 2010

Hi Thyrza,

Thanks for these challenging questions.  Two of your comments were striking for me.

First, this question about animation subsuming cinema.  I think that, although this formulation ultimately proved awkward and less useful than intended (and we probably wouldn't want to embrace now), it did address a sense that something was changing in media, and suddenly animation - or animations and animation techniques - appeared central to media studies, and film studies began to rethink that field as 'moving image studies.'  at one level, there were profound changes in production industries that many media scholars have highlighted - for instance, there had developed fairly secure and stable networks of production, distribution and circulation around radio, cinema, and television, which encouraged a sense that these really were different, almost in an ontological manner.  Then, with new media technologies, as these apparently stable media began to appear less stable, it was hard to describe the new situation, but it seemed clear that animation techniques were somehow bridging or making new formations between the media formations that were previously more distinct.  So the idea that animation was subsuming cinema initially afforded a good way to sort through this.  In fact, Oshii Mamoru, the famous animation director whose films are neither films nor animation, made similarly bold claims that all films were becoming animation.  But then the sense of what animation was, was also shifting.

For me (and I apologize if I am beating a cracked drum again) this situation was an invitation to rethink moving images and media without recourse to the unities of cinema and animation that were formerly stabilized in industrial production and criticism.  And the notion of the 'machine' (which incidentally is not mechanistic or autopoetic but heterogenetic) seemed timely, because it was possible to look at things in terms of assemblages with specific kinds of spacing or intervals that had developed and persisted across media formations.  So, for me, the animetic machine is a potential of the moving image that is first actualized in animation techniques for historical and technical reasons, but is not limited to animation per se.  It can enfold and 'outfold' techniques, modes of expression, and structures yet sustain a certain relation to the moving image, a specific indeterminacy in the sense of a spacing and a harnessing of forces.

Second, I think this question - where are the brilliant works, and what kind of stories would really make us care about any of this - is so important.  I wish I had an easy answer.  On the one hand, with my students, partly because of the kinds of animations we deal with, it is clear that folklore, epic, and myth - in generic terms, fabulation - are central to story making.  Students seem to grasp intuitively Bakhtin's ideas about the epic as an abstract encyclopedic form, even if they don't like his somewhat negative evaluation.  But that negative evaluation does raise questions for them.  On the other hand, a manga like that of young female artist Arakawa Hiromi (Full Metal Alchemistic), which is now a transnational media mix event, shows that such media mixes can deal effectively with questions about genocide, fascism, gender, and technology.  I think this is one of many brilliant works, but to understand why it has had such impact on younger audiences, some of the terms of analysis have to change.  Or Cowboy Bebop with its anime genre remix of jazz bebop and French and Italian new wave cinema.

Such works are good points of entry into the works that we might still find more challenging (like Passolini or Goddard) because they are not discontinuous with them.



On 06/02/10 4:23 PM, "Tgoodeve" <tgoodeve at gmail.com> wrote:

Hello tim and rene all -- just a quick post as I am new to empyre and
have been reading this dialogue but haven't really found a way in but
mention of the quays made me feel i should make a stab. The discussion
of deleuze and the animetic is fascinating. I hope we gi further with
that. But I don't understand in the discussion so far Is the way
cinema has to be subsumed completely by animation rather than looking
for their connections through the emergence of the digital. (there was
talk at the beginning of the problems of periodizing yet there seems
to be a reliance on it. Btw: i think it's impossible not to
periodize). Also continuity is one model not all of of the film theory
past and I know you all know this. And what about the polish and
eastern europen animators? And more in depth discussions of actual
examples or moments or poetics turned into philosophy? ( if that makes
sense? Like Pasolini on the long take -- I know that's film from the
20 th century). These questions are probably too specific at this
point as you are all building from conversations based on bodies of
scholarship that make assumptions about cinema and animation I'm not
as schooled in so apologize but I do know some of lev's work. Your
point about the design interface of sets of variables  (via software
design)as opposed to the static image of analogue  animation is
crucial. But is it just "good" or  when "formalist jackstraws" And
where brilliant new aesthetics? We all have students drunk on the
technology with norhing to say. I taught a course on storytelling
oral, book, cinema to digital
At nyu's ITP department and for their projects the students all asked
me "but what should we make stories about?"
And the quays -- since that is why Rene asked me in, we can talk about
their work down the line since the whole issue of "animation" /cinema
and other boundaries but it'd be along other lines.But the deleuzian
machine model could be great.
I'm writing this on my iPhone mid latte so excuse me if it is not well
thought out.
Best to all
Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 6, 2010, at 11:37 AM, Timothy Murray <tcm1 at cornell.edu> wrote:

>> Gerry,
> Perhaps I could have been more nuanced by indicating that I was
> referring to as a somewhat limiting focus of 70-80s film theory on
> the conventions of "continuity"-- I would include my own work in this
> critique.  My remark was meant less as blame and more as admission.
> It's a shame that you understand cinema, and I guess new media, to
> have been involved in a systematic degradation of the image.  Renate
> and I spent last week in the company of the  Quay Brothers whose
> quirky 35mm animations seemed to us to exemplify the thoughtful
> splendor of what Tom calls the continuous variation of animation.
> Although of a structure and quality that is very different from the
> anime informing Tom's project,  they are splendid on the sticky (?)
> screens of today.
> My understanding is that with each passing generation the
> cinematic/screenic image has become further "complexified,"
> particularly given the exemplary contributions of so many independent
> screen artists as their work has extended the material horizons
> offered by the development of ever sophisticated soft and hardware
> machines.
> Best,
> Tim
>> I wonder.
>> Is the readiness to blame cinematic studies not another way of
>> ingorning how animation (like cinema, and probably all media), is a
>> shadow of its former self? Oh certainly, animation cicra 1960 was
>> pretty bad, but how much better it was than the drivel which aheres
>> to the sticky screens of today. With each passing generation the
>> image is further degraded and, simultaneously, a new geneation of
>> theorists gather to ignore its decline.
>> My best
>> Gerry
>> ________________________________________
>> From: empyre-bounces at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> [empyre-bounces at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Timothy Murray
>> [tcm1 at cornell.edu]
>> Sent: February 6, 2010 10:20 AM
>> To: soft_skinned_space
>> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] animetic machines
>> Hi, Tom,
>> Thanks ever so much for your stimulating post on  "animetic
>> machines."   I think you're really onto something important in
>> stressing the flow and force of the "continuous variation" of framing
>> and imaging as it traverses the interrelated histories of cinema,
>> animation, and new media.
>> Indeed, the legacy of film studies has shackled us with a rather
>> deadening sense of the economy of "continuity" to such an extent that
>> I suspect that the theoretical and artistic communities could well
>> have shied away from embracing the "continuous" given its confusions
>> with the "continuity" so important to the conventional editing of the
>> Hollywood legacy.
>> It's in a similar vein that I've been interested in "enfolding" into
>> the hegemony of the perspective machine  the concept, flow, and force
>> of the "fold" as a space/field/concept of continuous machinic
>> variation.   While I've tended to foreground the more baroque and
>> cinematic aspects of the fold in my  writing, your post and recent
>> book sensitize me to the fact that much greater attention should be
>> paid to the role played by the  legacy and conceptuality of animation
>> in the development of the digital fold, particularly within the space
>> of cinema.
>> Thanks ever so much for such a cogent summary of the very complex
>> argument you launch in The Anime Machine.
>> Best,
>> Tim
>> --
>> Timothy Murray
>> Director, Society for the Humanities
>> http://www.arts.cornell.edu/sochum/
>> Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library
>> http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu
>> Professor of Comparative Literature and English
>> A. D. White House
>> Cornell University
>> Ithaca, New York 14853
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> --
> Timothy Murray
> Director, Society for the Humanities
> http://www.arts.cornell.edu/sochum/
> Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library
> http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu
> Professor of Comparative Literature and English
> A. D. White House
> Cornell University
> Ithaca, New York 14853
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
empyre forum
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