Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics

Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics

Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics

Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics


Art in Motion is the first comprehensive examination of the aesthetics of animation in its many forms. It gives an overview of the relationship between animation studies and media studies, then focuses on specific aesthetic issues concerning flat and dimensional animation, full and limited animation, and new technologies. A series of studies on abstract animation, audiences, representation, and institutional regulators is also included.


The world of animation has changed a great deal since the mid-1980s. Today, animated imagery surrounds us, in feature films, television series, games, and other contexts. Computer animation has opened many opportunities, and closed others. While traditional cel animation techniques have been largely replaced by digital ink and paint systems, the computer has allowed for the growth of animation that looks very different from the classical cel animated features that dominated production for so many years. With the assistance of computers, one can much more easily produce work that employs – or simulates – watercolors, colored pencils, charcoals, and many other media. Artists can now use computer-generated imagery to create three-dimensional characters and environments that range from cartoon-like to ultra-realistic. So, while many of the jobs of traditional cel animation have largely disappeared, new jobs have emerged – many of them related to digital production.

During this time of industrial expansion, there has been a similar growth in the realm of animation literature. When the first edition of this book was published in 1998, it represented the culmination of ten years of my personal research. At that time, books covered only limited amount of animation topics. Now, just a few years later, one can find numerous books covering the history, theory, and criticism of animation – and not just related to American studio production. For example, Japanese animation – including the highly acclaimed work of Hayao Miyazaki – has attracted critical attention, partly because of the vast size and diversity of the industry and partly because of its international popularity. We also have much greater access to animated productions from throughout the world due to the increased availability of Web animation and DVDs, which often contain useful supplemental material.

As animation spreads through society – showing up on the World Wide Web, on Cable Channels broadcasting 24-hours a day, in dvd collections, and even on our mobile phones – we increasingly appreciate its potential as a means of entertaining and informing people across the world. However, the growth in not only exhibition contexts but also production media leaves educators and students with a big question: ‘how do we train for this multifaceted field, using the latest technology – while still being grounded in essential qualities of the art form?’ It remains vital to understand aesthetic issues related to animation and discuss them in classrooms and other forums. This edition of Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics retains the bulk of its original form, while incorporating new information and updating material to bring its discussion into the new social and historical contexts of animation production.

Like its first edition, this book is divided into two parts. Part 1 covers fundamental issues that pave the way for a discussion of animation aesthetics in various contexts. Chapter 1 introduces the realm of ‘animation studies’, providing definition of the term ‘animation’ and suggesting approaches to research. Chapter 2 presents an historical overview of animated film in its early years, mainly focusing on the American industry, including the rivalry between the Fleischer and Disney studios.

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