Animating Space: From Mickey to WALL-E

Animating Space: From Mickey to WALL-E

Animating Space: From Mickey to WALL-E

Animating Space: From Mickey to WALL-E

Synopsis

Animators work within a strictly defined, limited space that requires difficult artistic decisions. The blank frame presents a dilemma for all animators, and the decision of what to include and leave out raises important questions about artistry, authorship, and cultural influence. In Animating Space: From Mickey to WALL-E, renowned scholar J. P. Telotte explores how animation has confronted the blank template, and how responses to that confrontation have changed. Focusing on American animation, Telotte tracks the development of animation in line with changing cultural attitudes toward space and examines innovations that elevated the medium from a novelty to a fully realized art form. From Winsor McCay and the Fleischer brothers to the Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., and Pixar Studios, Animating Space explores the contributions of those who invented animation, those who refined it, and those who, in the current digital age, are using it to redefine the very possibilities of cinema.

Excerpt

The focus of this book is on animation and space—not the sort of wondrous space that we have historically looked up at and all too glibly talked about conquering, but rather another kind of space that in its own way has proven to be just as challenging and that similarly holds great attraction for us, what I term animating space. Within that phrase I want to bind up two things that I believe are essential to describing the work of animation properly. On the one hand, I am referring to the space within which animators work, the space of paper, cel, film frame, or computer screen that stands blankly before them, and within which they then must craft their art. and on the other, I want to describe the result of that confrontation, how that space comes alive, becomes what Henri Lefebvre terms “representational space” (43), as the work of the animator infuses it and all that seems to be within it (indeed, the space and all within it are really of the same stuff) with life or spirit (the anima of animation). I begin with this dual focus—or dual designation—in part because it seems that we often confuse these two elements, especially as we tend to focus attention on the typically amusing and often intriguing characters who are the product of that animating, but also because I believe their relationship is essential to thinking about animation. It allows us to account for what we see in the animated film as well as for its manifest appeal, which lies, from the time of Winsor McCay and his dinosaur brought to life, Gertie, to today in that seemingly magical ability of the form to generate life or vitality, to take a step in the direction of what André Bazin reminds us is one of humanity’s oldest and most compelling . . .

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