[-empyre-] Queerreality

Homay King hking at brynmawr.edu
Wed Jun 13 07:58:29 EST 2012

Jack, Thanks for an excellent post, one that I hope will prompt lots of conversation so that we can stay in this desert for a while. A few thoughts:

Re: Stuffed objects. “Stuffed animals, cushions, seats, beds, wet suits – all of these objects, some of which join forces with the cliché, can be described as queerreal – they offer new modes of companionship in old technical formats, they offer a fake warmth which we anyway accept.” 

This brings to mind D. W. Winnicott’s writings on the transitional object in Playing and Reality (a touchstone for Allison Bechdel’s recent graphic memoir). The transitional object is not only as “the first not-me possession,” as Winnicott defines it, but also an object on the cusp, a virtual object between real and unreal, actual and possible. A velveteen rabbit. I took this term “transitional objects” as a title for a course I taught on new media art. How are digital objects related to transitional and stuffed objects? 

Re: Animation. “In the desert of the queerreal there are were-rabbits and clay hens, 3D fish and rats, swarms, vampires and zombies and elaborated worlds of social insects. And I guarantee you this: in the best animation there is no smuggled in, sentimental attachment to the real. Rather, deep at the heart of the animated spectacle is one firm truth – behind every great animation, is an algorithm that is constantly being rewritten, a dream being reworked and a world being unmade.” 

Agree, wonderfully put here. The figure who comes to mind in this context is of course Sergei Eisenstein, for whom, perhaps improbably, Walt Disney was somewhat of a revolutionary, due to the fact that his creatures and things existed in a constant state of transformation, making and unmaking, especially in the early shorts and Fantasia. Turing, too, was a Disney afficianado... Is the contemporary association of animation with the infantile a way of dismissing this potentially disruptive, potentially queer aspect of it?

Homay King 
Associate Professor, Dept of History of Art 
Director, Program in Film Studies and Center for Visual Culture 
Bryn Mawr College 
Editorial Collective, Camera Obscura 

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