[-empyre-] animation and short term memory (was, a long time ago: interpreting datasets, etc)

Richard Wright futurenatural at blueyonder.co.uk
Sat Feb 27 10:08:12 EST 2010

I always liked the quality in the Quay films where time seems to lose  
all its reference points. Those shots of dust settling or shadows  
dancing where you are no longer sure whether you are watching in  
"realtime" or over the course of hundreds of years.

This also made me wonder why certain kinds of narrative and time are  
almost never used in animation. For instance, why are there no non- 
linear narrative animations? They are not that uncommon in live  
action films - I am thinking of Memento that goes backwards in story  
time (with one b/w stream going forwards), Amores Perros that jumps  
repeatedly backwards and forwards, The Hours with its parallel  
storylines running in different historical times periods. The only  
example of an animated film that has anything like these kinds of  
narrative structure is Waltz with Bashir with its persistent  
flashbacks. And that was made by a live action director.

I wonder if this has something to do with the way that animators  
work, concentrating as they do on building up a sequence of actions  
bit by bit, are they generally less directed towards the larger  
narrative structures of time? By focusing on the duration of the  
immediate event, is it as though they assume a sort of "short term  


On 25 Feb 2010, at 03:34, T Goodeve wrote:

> Hello everyone:
> Sorry I’ve been so lax as a discussant-generator but here I am with  
> some thoughts and reflections. If it’s okay just an aside first:  
> off the top of my fingertips—many of you make stuff you love and  
> live for, also write about with great passion, and the animated  
> worldscape is still and ever will be one of magic and wonder I hope  
> (you have the romantic here), i.e., endless visual and aural  
> reimagings via its ability, or definition, whether anlogue or  
> digital, to do anything and everything within and beyond the  
> spacetime continuum. But sometimes I miss the basic humor, wonder,  
> and sheer “wow” of the simplicity of animation. I mentioned in a  
> post. The blank page and the dot. We lose track, myself included,  
> analyzing the life out of things sometimes and to do this with  
> animation seems particularly perverse. I realize I set myself up  
> for a bit of ridicule here but alas, someone has to speak up for  
> the puppet doll in Street of Crocodiles who cradles the bare light  
> bulb baby in its arm and brings it back to life with light, or the  
> frayed and earnest bunny who does his best to keep up with the  
> spinning demented ping pong balls and a pair of disembodied knee  
> socks and slippers moving up and down on tip toes in the Quays “Are  
> We Still Married” —up and down, up and down. I think Christopher  
> Sullivan was trying to get at this but not everyone is out to do  
> what he does nor interested in the way I am or the Quays or for  
> that matter, those who use it for visualization, but depending on  
> why you do what you do we are here to discuss the breakthrough  
> insights of theory and technology and animation, but it’s just  
> sometimes I’ve felt we’ve let the technology get away with doing  
> too much of the talking, not that it doesn’t have a lot to say.
> But a more hardy, if overly general, topic is temporality and time,  
> now-time vs say the way cinema’s capturing, sculpting, control of  
> time was such a huge part of its magic. Siegfried Kracauer describe  
> in an essay how powerful just “having” the wind in the trees —a  
> moment— captured on film is for him. How different from one of my  
> students when I showed some film, perhaps Tarkovsky,” Why does he  
> keep leaving the camera on the trees so long?” Students of cinema  
> are different. We know this: ADD and short digitized attention  
> spans. But how do you see this in your worlds of animation either  
> in terms of resistance or something emerging that is part of this.  
> One thing I thought was very relevant was the post of the shift  
> tilt which is amazing and disturbing in this respect. Lots to say  
> about it: not only the time lapse but the way the world is  
> miniaturized. Here the real profilmic world is literally made into  
> an stop motion animated “cartoon”. One could talk about the Quays  
> work and time – both in terms of period and affect; rhythm and  
> texture of their worlds (In Absentia, the film they made with  
> Stockhausen, is in some ways about light/time, metaphorically  
> written all at once over and over (the character n the film) hence  
> no time. Endless time. Speed of light…  .) But I do not know what  
> people have seen. I am more interested in hearing you all discuss  
> temporality and animation “today”—both theoretically and examples.  
> These discussions are so energetic. They amaze me.
> Thanks, Thyrza
> On Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 12:39 AM, christopher sullivan  
> <csulli at saic.edu> wrote:
> Hi Richard, I am the guy that wants animations about love, hate,  
> birth, sex, and
> death.(not necessarily in that order)
> your rules of engagement leave me a little cold. why would this be  
> a goal?
> "greatest possible distance between
>  human senses and computer code that is achievable through the
>  simplest material means"
> what part of the human condition would make this a mandate?
> why would this be effective, or rather effective at doing what?
> I know I am being a little aggressive here, but this is coming from
> someone who does not think Data means anything, nor does emulsion.
> chris.

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