Cartoon Animation: Satire and Subversion Full Programme

SteveBellGuardian13-2-20
[Keynote speaker Steve Bell ©Steve Bell/The Guardian, 13/2/2020]

Delighted to announce that we will be live streaming this event at:
https://estream.ucreative.ac.uk/View.aspx?e=G15_RG21
Please note that the link will not be live until Monday morning.

Schedule for the day:

9.30-10.00 Registration/Coffee

10.00-10.05 Opening Remarks Tom Lowe / Dr Birgitta Hosea

10.05-10.50 Keynote 1 Dr Sharon Lockyer (Brunel University London)

10.50-12.00 Panel 1: Performing satire

Dr Maggie Gray( Kingston School of Art), Pierre Floquet (Bordeaux INP, France), Kate Jessop (University of Brighton)

12.00-12.20 Coffee Break

12.20-13.30 Panel 2: Absurdity and the destabilisation of authority 

Prof. Fran Lloyd (Kingston School of Art), Sarah Tehan (Belfast School of Art, Ulster University) David Wischer (University of Kentucky, USA)

13.30-14.30 Lunch Break

14.30-15.30 Keynote 2 Steve Bell 

15.30-16.00 Coffee Break

16.00-17.10 Panel 3: Politics and propaganda from print to the pixel

Dr. Driss Faddouli (Chouaib Doukkali University, El Jadida, Morocco) Prof. Paul Ward (Arts University Bournemouth) Dr. José L. Valhondo-Creg (Universidad de Extremadura, Spain)

17.10-17.40     Closing discussion with all panellists

17.40-18.00     Curator introduction to exhibition Jim Walker (UCA)

18.00-20.00    Bob Godfrey: A Collaborative Act Exhibition opens with drinks in James Hockey Gallery

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Presenter Details and Abstracts

croppedSharon Lockyer Social and Political Sciences 1

Keynote 1: Dr Sharon Lockyer

Sharon Lockyer is a Reader in Sociology and Communications and the founding director of the Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR) at Brunel University London, UK. Her research interests include critical comedy studies, identity politics and comic media representations and the sociology of popular culture, and she is widely published in these areas in books, journal articles and blogs. Recent work in these areas has been published in Feminist Media StudiesInternational Journal of CommunicationDisability & Society and The Journal of Popular Television. She is the founding co-editor of the Palgrave Studies in Comedy book series and was executive board member-at-large for the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS) from 2016-2019.

Dr Maggie Gray, ‘Cartooning and Performance: ‘Cartoon Style’ Alternative Theatre’

Experimental alternative theatre groups of the 1970s and 80s developed a form of performance that came to be known as ‘cartoon theatre’. This meant not only drawing on cartoon characters, conventions and imagery, but developing a distinctive ‘cartoon style’ mode of presentation – a stripped-down, fast-paced, surreal and stylised approach to narrative, abbreviated characterisation, and emphasis on breaks and movement between action. As an approach this was seen to match wider political aims to create rebellious, dynamic, anti-naturalist forms of theatre that could radically deconstruct and transform the world. In connection with the way alternative theatre drew on traditions of popular performance like music hall, cartooning was also seen as a carnivalesque visual mode appropriate to the non-traditional performance spaces like the street, pub, club, trade union hall, arts lab, picket line and community centre in which these groups performed, and attuned to the working class, countercultural and marginalised audiences they wanted to engage.

This paper will explore how and why these theatre collectives appropriated cartooning for the purposes of artistic and political subversion and what this suggests about the politics and aesthetics of cartooning. Drawing on archival research, it focuses on the work of C.A.S.T. (Cartoon Archetypical Slogan Theatre), a working-class socialist theatre ‘gang’ who pioneered this kind of performance. C.A.S.T. produced a series of short, improvised plays centred on iterations of an ‘Arch-typical’ Muggins character, and developed an anarchic, condensed, quick-fire and highly physical style of production. Described as ‘presentationalism’, this was designed to grab the attention of audiences in the way pop cultural forms like rock’n’roll, and comic books did, and to hold a subversive satirical mirror to social reality that attested to the possibilities of its radical alteration.

Bio: Maggie Gray lectures in Critical and Historical Studies at Kingston University, UK. Her research has focused on the history of British comics, in particular, the work of Alan Moore. Her book, Alan Moore, Out from the Underground: Cartooning, Performance and Dissent, which looked at Moore’s early work as a cartoonist in relation to his wider practice as a musician, poet, playwright and illustrator, was published by Palgrave in 2017. She is particularly interested in the performative aspects of comics, and the politics of performance thereby invoked. She is currently researching the intersections of the alternative theatre and alternative comics movements in the UK (1968-1990).

Pierre Floquet ‘Tex Avery as the Noah Webster of Cartoons’

A selection of iconic and more remote characters, of various cultural and moral issues are looked upon as as many telling examples of what Avery brought forward and played with over his twenty years or so of creation, as he developed his own style both in storytelling and aesthetics.

This analysis is both centripetal and centrifugal. What inspired him? The chronology of his cartoons both claims a very strong bound with US culture at large, and reflects the evolution of the latter. Meanwhile, as in a give-and-take momentum, Avery would interact with contemporary animators (Disney, the Fleischers, UPA artists), and with fellow artists from Hollywood studios. As a result Avery would participate in an informal creative pool, beyond and within his own team of animators, he would inspire with his own vision of the craft (C Jones, B Clampett, UPA, among others).

Consequently, Avery triggered out some original artistic standards in animation, which still prevail today. This was made possible as his films can hardly ever be considered as “one-offs”; beyond themes and characters, they follow a fairly strict set of recurrent codes of narration and representation. Avery simultaneously suggests cultural and moral subversion, and yet celebrates and abides by mainstream Hollywood / US social expectations (the issue of satire is to be discussed). As it is, one may speak of a cinematic comic language. Actually, in the long run, spectators are able to watch and spot / read and decrypt a given situation with its corresponding sound-effects, its iconographic denotation, its narrative offset. From there on Avery establishes a privileged pragmatic relation with them, and then plays with their expectations, either satisfying or – comically – frustrating them before he may carry them away into one further gag.

Bio: Pierre Floquet teaches English, and is associate professor at Bordeaux INP. He wrote on linguistics applied to animation film, organized Avery retrospectives and conferences, and was a juror at animation festivals in France and abroad. He has extended his focus to live action, participating in French and international books and journals. He edited CinémAnimationS (2007), and published Le Langage comique de Tex Avery (2009). His recent works and articles deal with film aesthetics, movement in animation film, the interactions between content and form in animation film.

Kate Jessop ‘The politics of comedy – how has adult animation used satire as a vehicle for feminist cultural commentary?’

The recent #TimesUp and #MeToo movements have brought notions of inequality and sexual harassment to the forefront of cultural discussion. Because animation is such an engaging and accessible medium it can render itself to be a valuable tool for addressing both challenging and abstract topics, often through the genre of documentary but also through satirical comedy. Contemporary adult animation series’ such as Tuca and Bertie and Bojack Horseman have been at the forefront of examining both the female perspective and societies treatment of women through use of satirical humour.

I will examine how adult animation has documented and presented these often complex female experiences. How successful or authentic can animation be in highlighting what has traditionally been feminist issues. And how is that a political act within itself?

Bio: Kate Jessop is a multi award-winning animation filmmaker whose work spans across narrative shorts, artists’ film and comedy. She represented the UK in the Best of Women in Film and TV, was a Virgin Media Shorts Finalist and a Berlinale Talents 2019 participant both as director & with her comedy series Tales From Pussy Willow in the Project Lab. She has exhibited extensively internationally, undertaking artist residencies in Berlin, Istanbul and Reykjavik. She is a Senior Lecturer in Animation & has taught in China. Her paper on Animation as Activism has been presented at Goldsmiths College & Queering Animation the first ever conference on Queer Animation.

Prof. Fran Lloyd ‘Humour and the Subversion of  Authority: The Animated Internment Drawings of Peter Sachs’

In interview for BBC 4’s ‘Animation Nation’ broadcast in April 2005, Bob Godfrey refers to the ‘enthusiasms’ of the Weimar-trained Berlin animator Peter Sachs (1912-1990) who led the Larkins Studio in London where Godfrey trained in the early 1950s alongside Keith Learner before setting up Biographic Cartoons Ltd. in 1955.

The son of a Jewish architect father and Lutheran mother, Sachs had worked with Berlin’s most highly-regarded experimental film animators: the Hungarian-born George Pal (born György Pál Marczincsak, 1908–1980) and the German artist and filmmaker Oskar W. Fischinger (1900–1967) in the early 1930s, experimenting with hand drawn cartoon animation and innovative stop-motion techniques. With the rise of Hitler, Sachs first fled to Eindhoven in Holland in 1934 where he worked on the famous animated advertisements produced by Pal’s studio for Philips Radio and Horlicks. After the invasion of Holland in May 1939, at the height of the refugee crisis, Sachs eventually secured a permit to enter Britain in June 1939 to work as a domestic servant, aged 27.

This paper focuses on Sachs’ hitherto overlooked contributions to the ‘The Onchan Pioneer’ camp magazine during his internment as a German speaking ‘enemy alien’ on the Isle of Man from 1940 to 1941.  Within the restrictive space of internment, with limited material resources, Sachs produced a series of wordless vignette drawings for the weekly magazine where he used his skills as an animator and graphic designer to induce laughter among fellow internees and to subvert the camp’s authority. The black and white drawing panels, based on the everyday activities of the internment camp – the laundry, growing crops and raising farm animals – employ an economy of line that capture the sonic aspects of the camp and simultaneously humorously undermine such commands as ‘Get Ready for the Inspection’. Unable to produce film animations in the camp, Sachs’ drawings directly reference animation devices while pointing to the absurdities of camp life and were to have a profound influence on fellow German internee Kurt Weiler who later trained with Sachs before returning to the GDR in 1956.

Bio: Fran Lloyd is Professor of Art History and Co-Director of Kingston University’s Visual and Material Culture Research Centre. She has published widely on émigré artists/collectors in Britain, including the Latvian-born sculptor Dora Gordine and the American collector Stanley Picker. Recent essays on German-speaking refugee artists and their networks include: “Making Animation Matter: Peter Sachs Comes to Britain’ (2019); “Becoming Artists: Ernst Eisenmayer, Kurt Weiler and Refugee Support Networks in wartime Oxford” (2015) and “Kurt Schwitters: Responses to Place” (2013).  She has also curated exhibitions on Kurt Schwitters at The Sayle Gallery on the Isle of Man to mark the 65th anniversary of his death and to commemorate his internment on the island (2013) and Art beyond exile: the first retrospective in the UK of Viennese-born artist Ernst Eisenmayer (2012). 

Sarah Tehan ‘Captain Phineas May – War Cartoons 1940-1946’ ‘Prints in Motion’

The Cartoon within the Second World War was a vital element in the fight for the hearts and minds of the people. It was also used by combatants to send stories home of life at the front. Phineas May, like many, spent his war years’ miles away from family in a new and distant land. The main means of communication to home was the airgraph letter. For Phineas this was an opportunity to amuse his wife Vivienne with Cartoons, depicting life in the Garrison. The Cartoons presented an often satirical examination of life within the army. Serving in the Pioneers Corps in Egypt with African Garrison Companies, several of Phineas’ cartoons depict British African Soldiers during a time of change within the Empire. The Cartoons depict cultural differences between the British Officers and their African Soldiers, as well as the Arab Locals.

This presentation, will discuss the works of Phineas May and the representation of the African Soldiers serving in the British Army. May’s work used racial stereotypes and language to promote humour. Elements of the work seen through the contemporary lens would be considered offensive. Could the work still be seen as a moment of discovery, of different cultures for combatants during that period; whose experience of other cultures would be little to non existent? May’s work taken as a whole, shows both affection for the African Soldiers and amusement in their lack of understanding of British ways. The work presents questions of British humour in the face of war, representation of the colonised and stereotyping within Cartoons.

Bio: Sarah Tehan is a visual artist and researcher based in Belfast. Tehan is a PhD Researcher at Belfast School of Art, Ulster University and an Associate Lecturer at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. Her research is focused on the representation of conflict and the archive. Sarah holds an MA from the University of Westminster.

David Wischer ‘Prints in Motion’

The absurdity of the world that we live in can be rejected or it can be embraced. Many aspects of popular culture and media have embraced the absurd and amplified it, creating nonsense while commenting on the current state of confusion where we all reside. My work as a printmaker and animation artist focuses on my idea of amplified absurdity. This paper will begin with the definition of absurdity and will discuss absurdism as a theme in existentialist philosophy, as well as the humorous exaggeration of absurdity. This paper will then examine how certain paradoxes or contradictions can create nonsense that is rooted in reality. The first paradox or contradiction involves the difference between being connected and disconnected. Much like images posted on social media networking sites and blogs, visual art can connect to specific groups of people, however, creating private humor may alienate or disconnect some others. The second paradox discussed is the visual merging of serious situations with humorous imagery. There is a substantial body of work in art and media that is created with parody, satire, irony, and caricature. And the third paradox is the fusion of digital reality with analog reality. The world has become more digital and less human, and the merging or fusion of these worlds is an important part of my visual work, both conceptually and through the processes I choose. I will examine notions of absurdity and nonsense in the works of related artists. Several series of my works in silkscreen printmaking and stop-motion animation will be discussed. This paper will conclude by explaining the tactical use of these paradoxes in my own visual art and the effect of amplified absurdity on the artist and the art viewer.

Bio: David Wischer was born in Henderson, Kentucky. He received his B.F.A. in Graphic Design from Northern Kentucky University and his M.F.A. in Fine Art from Purdue University. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital and Print Media at University of Kentucky. His work has recently been exhibited at the Center for Book Arts in New York, the Four Rivers Print Biennial at Southern Illinois University, International Print Center New York, and AIRD Gallery in Toronto, Canada.

Wischer’s work is heavily influenced by his personal observations of The Absurd. The internet, social media, and celebrity are a current source of that inspiration. David uses printmaking, animation, and drawing as a vehicle for the mixing and matching of incongruous images. Because these images are a fusion of personal and appropriated imagery, viewers may understand part of the work and be confused by others. This public and private information mirrors our own encounter with images in popular culture and mass media that we see every day. 

SteveBellGuardian6-2-20
[Keynote speaker Steve Bell ©Steve Bell/The Guardian, 06/2/2020]

Keynote 2: Steve Bell

Steve Bell is an award-winning cartoonist for the Guardian since 1981 and has also produced cartoons for Private Eye, New Statesman and many other popular publications. Graduated in Fine Art from Leeds University in 1974, he taught art before becoming a freelance cartoonist.

With Bob Godfrey he made a number of animated cartoons for TV, including a cartoon biography, Margaret Thatcher — Where Am I Now? broadcast on Channel 4. He has had thirty books published, including a cartoon autobiography of George Bush called Apes of Wrath, numerous anthologies of the If strip If Marches On and, more recently a Tony Blair self-help guide titled My Vision For a New You, published by Methuen. A collection of the past four years If strips and other cartoons, Corbyn – the Resurrection was published by Guardian Faber books in Autumn 2018.

His work has been published all over the world and he has won numerous awards, including the What the Papers Say Cartoonist of the Year in 1993, the XXI Premio Satira Politica (Grafica estera) Forte Dei Marmi, Italy 1993, the Political Cartoon Society Cartoon of the Year Award in 2001 and 2008 and Cartoonist of the Year in 2005 and 2007, the British Press Awards Cartoonist of the Year in 2002, the Cartoon Arts Trust Award eight times, the Channel 4 Political Humour Award in 2005 and the Political Studies Association Best Political Satire Award in 2005. He has also received honorary degrees from the Universities of Sussex, Teesside, Loughborough, Leeds and Brighton.

His cartoon website is Belltoons.co.uk

Dr Driss Faddouli ‘Moroccan Facebookers and the Visual Rhetoric of Political Negation’

My presentation will attempt to unravel the underlying dialectics of subversion that gives rise to a counter-hegemonic political consciousness in the Moroccan Facebookers’ visual narratives (notably comics) about Moroccan politics. It will argue that these comics construct and articulate a rhetorically counter-hegemonic discourse of political negation through generating ideographs that, in turn, animate a variety of antagonisms dismantling the state’s discourse (the public transcript). I will base my analysis on the assumption that the emergence of a political counter-hegemony basically translates an actual change in reality wherein stronger changes in political discourse are constantly sustained and fostered. First, I will initiate my presentation with a short introduction on the dynamics of contemporary Moroccan networked public sphere and the daily practices of Moroccan Facebookers in relation to several socio-cultural controversies. Second, I will contextualize my talk in light of the politics and poetics of transgression as conceptualized by major thinkers. Third, I will offer some sample visual narratives pertinent to my talk along with an elaboration of these. Finally, I will sum up my talk by delineating some concluding thoughts and opening up horizons for future research.

Bio: Dr Driss Faddouli is a professor of English at Chouaib Doukkali University, El Jadida, Morocco. He obtained his Doctorate degree in 2018 from Ibn Tofail University, Kenitra, Morocco. His fields of interest include Visual Culture, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, and Literature. He has researched and published on contemporary socio-cultural dynamics of Moroccan society. His publications include Online Maghreb Arab Social Movements and Facebook: A Case Study of Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia, Is Mohamed Choukri’s For Bread Alone a Picaresque Narrative and Moroccan Facebook Visual Narratives and Cultural Production.

Prof. Paul Ward ‘Satire and subversion in the work of Han Hoogerbrugge’

Hoogerbrugge’s works often hinge on subversive takes on real-world events and figures using bizarre animated imagery. For example, What’s Up Doc? (2013) offers a looped animated reinterpretation of the assassination of Colonel Gaddafi, featuring Bugs Bunny. Hoogerbrugge routinely plays with loops, gifs and animated repetitions to communicate his messages.

Based around repetitions and fissures – aspects where we might not be sure exactly ‘what is going on’ – these works have an intense but enigmatic power. In order to understand this, I refer to Lamarque and Olsen’s (1994) notion of ‘topical’ and ‘perennial’ themes in literature, alongside Robbins’ (1996) concept of the ‘rheterolect’. ‘Topical’ themes are very specific to an historical and cultural context and address their audiences in a narrow and focused way; ‘perennial’ themes, on the other hand, can be understood as resonating across different historical and cultural contexts.

Satire and the subverting of cultural, political or social ‘norms’ relies on an implicit understanding of the specificity of ‘topical’ themes – in short, we need to know who or what is being satirised in order for the satire to work. This raises questions for those who view satirical works outside of the historical or cultural contexts in which they were made. This is where Robbins’ concept is useful: the idea of ‘rhetorolects’ is that there are certain recognisable ‘rhetorical dialects’ that have evolved and hybridised – they are “a distinctive configuration of themes, topics, reasonings and argumentations” (1996: 356) – and satirical and subversive visual language is a key part of this, in the ways it takes, transforms and animates ‘topical’ material.

References
Lamarque, P. and Olsen, S. H. (1994) Truth, Fiction and Literature: A Philosophical Perspective. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Robbins, V. (1996) ‘The Dialectical Nature of Early Christian Discourse’, Scriptura 59, pp. 353-362.

Bio: Paul’s main research interests are in the fields of animation and documentary film and television, animation pedagogy, production cultures, communities of practice and film and media historiography.

Published work includes articles for the journals animation: an interdisciplinary journal, Animation Journal, and the Historical Journal for Film, Radio and Television, as well as numerous anthology essays. He was also the President of the Society for Animation Studies from 2010 to 2015 and the inaugural Fellow of the Holland Animated Film Festival (HAFF) in 2012. He was a Visiting Professor in the Design School at the Politecnico di Milano in November 2013. His work has been translated into German, Czech, Korean, Farsi and Japanese.

Paul Ward is Series Co-Editor (with Caroline Ruddell) for the book series Palgrave Animation.

Dr. José L. Valhondo-Crego ‘Subverting the myths of Francoism in the Spanish satirical press’

The Spanish humorous weekly El Jueves (Thursday), which first appeared in May 1977, just a month before the first elections of the transition has endured to the present day.     The aim of this text is to analyse the way in which El Jueves dealt with the exhuming of the remains of Franco, a recent event which took place on 24th October, 2019. Although those nostalgic for the Francoism are politically residual in Spain, a great deal of myths still pervades more than 40 years after the end of the dictatorship. It is what the political experts point out as the Sociological Francoism. These myths have gathered momentum in the public sphere with the rise of the new ultra-right populist party Vox. In popular culture, the catch phrase unfolded by the supporters of this party is that “Franco también hizo cosas buenas” (“Franco also did good things”). In this respect, this kind of arguments are operating as a way to whiten a corrupt and supremacist political regime in order to gain support for an extreme-right party. Trying to counteract these myths, El Jueves published a special section devoted to subvert the most common stereotypes about Francoism, such as that Franco established the Spanish Social Security or that corruption hardly ever existed under the regime.

Bio: José L. Valhondo-Crego works as a Lecturer at the Faculty of Documentation and Communication Sciences of the University of Extremadura. He received his Communication Ph.D. in the Rey Juan Carlos University (Madrid) in 2008. He also studied a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in the University of Salamanca and further training a Master’s in Journalism in the University of the Basque Country. His line of research is related to Political Communication, Satire and Film Studies.

Acknowledgments

This conference was organised by the Animation Research Centre at UCA with support from UCA Internal Research Funding. We would like to thank Emma Reyes, Felicity Croyden, Leigh Garrett, Lesley Adams, Bradley McGinty, Amy Owen, Emma Cook, Lisa Chadwick, Tom Lowe, Claire Godfrey, Lorna McColl, Kris Bercsenyi and all the students who helped.

Animation Research Centre, UCA

Founded in 1998, the Animation Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham is a centre for innovation, doctoral study, debate and dialogue, interdisciplinary and practice-based research into animation in all its most expanded forms. Our current work ranges from archival research, conference organisation, exhibition curation and academic publication to investigations in immersive technology, block chain and movement capture.

For more information, contact <animationresearch@uca.ac.uk>

Free tickets available up until the last minute. Book here: http://satireandsubversion.eventbrite.co.uk

Animated GIF          Print

Call for papers: Ecstatic Truth V

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We are extremely happy to confirm our first guest speakers for this year’s Ecstatic Truth: Dr. Lilly Husbands, animation lecturer and researcher, and Marcin Gizycki, art historian, critic and filmmaker.

Ecstatic Truth is the annual symposium dedicated to the intersections of animation and documentary in its multiple formats. The Call for Papers is open until Friday the 16th of February – please read below for more info. The next one will take place in Vienna, 27-28 April, in conjunction with Under_the_Radar 2020.

This year we invite speakers to respond to the age of the absurd we seem to be living in:
How can we respond to the absurdity of a world being run to continuously make profit regardless of its sustainability? How can we use animation and filmmaking for activism? How can we creatively challenge the current assault on reliable information? What is the role of humour, surrealism, the historic strategies of the Absurd and Central European Existentialism, to respond to these contemporary issues?

We welcome proposals for 20-minute presentations, speculations, poetic reflections, rigorous questioning, even fierce creative opposition, from both academic and practitioner-led perspectives. Selected papers will be published in a specially themed issue of the International Journal of Film and Media Arts.

The proposal should include an abstract of not more than 500 words and a short biography of no more than 200 words.

Please send it to: ecstatic.truth.symposium@gmail.com
Call for papers deadline: 16th February 2020

For more information about the call for papers go to: https://ecstatictruth5.eventbrite.co.uk

[Image: George Grosz, ‘The Voice of the People is the Voice of God from The Face of the Ruling Class’ (1920)]

Cartoon Animation: Satire and Subversion – 17th Feb 2020

'Great' by Bob Godfrey 1975 - 2019. Image © Thomas Lowe & Claire Godfrey
[Still from Great by Bob Godfrey courtesy of the Bob Godfrey Collection, UCA Archives]

What makes us laugh at cartoons? What is it that makes something funny? Cartoon Animation: Satire and Subversion is a one-day conference on 17th Feb at UCA Farnham, Surrey, UK, inspired by the legacy of legendary British animator Bob Godfrey to explore the politics of comedy. The Keynote speakers are Steve Bell, Guardian cartoonist and Dr. Sharon Lockyer, Director of the Comedy Research Centre at Brunel University. The conference will be accompanied by the opening of Bob Godfrey, a Collaborative Act, an exhibition of rarely seen items from Bob Godfrey’s archive.

Click here for more information and to book a free place: https://www.uca.ac.uk/events/cartoon-animation-symposium.

Leeds Animation Workshop Speculative Lunch

Leeds University’s Special Collections and Archives ran a ‘speculative lunch‘ on 6/2/2020 to gauge interest in the Leeds Animation Workshop‘s archives of materials from over 40 years of working collectively as a women’s animation coop. A number of feminist academics, archivists, film and animation historians from around the country gathered to discuss LAW’s legacy and who would benefit if Leeds University were to acquire the collection.
 
Sarah Prescott and Tim Proctor, Special Collections archivists, and Terry Wragg, original LAW member gave an overview of LAW and the materials in the collection. The well preserved records that LAW have kept of their activities cover not only the art work and storyboards from productions, but also the institutional documentation – business documents, minutes, financial documents, invoice books, press clipping, details of screenings they organised and their films were screened in. These all give a clear picture of the operational context and networks they worked in, thus contributing not only to animation history, but also to the history of women’s and LGBT liberation, activist filmmaking, the film workshop movement, film screenings in Leeds and trade unionism. For Terry Wragg, the most important thing is to record the history of women working in animation.
 
Indeed, the workshop also serves as a role model for alternative ways of producing animation and alternative markets for activist animations that were often commissioned for campaigns and for trade unions. Their working practices and productions are an example of intersectional and inclusive politics through which they lived and practised what they preached. Let’s hope Leeds University does take on this important archive and preserve a vibrant slice of the city’s heritage.
 
 
Images from LAW’s headquarters, which is a treasure trove of a terraced house packed full of animated characters and original film equipment.

GEECT Thematic Meeting on Film Research, Stockholm 22/1/20

GEECT is the Eurpoean regional council for CILECT, the international association of Film and Television Schools. They held their first thematic meeting on research in Stockholm on 22/1/20. Having been lucky enough to attend this very thought provoking event, I am sharing my notes here for other researchers who were unable to go there in person.

NB. Disclaimer – these notes were taken for my own information and 100% accuracy of transcription is not guaranteed. In removing perspectival distortion from my photos of the screen, some inaccuracies were added to the reproduction of PowerPoint slides.
 
THEMATIC MEETING
Stockholm Wednesday 22 January 2020
09.00-10.00 Registration, coffee and tea
The Reception area at the Film & Media department, Stockholm University of the Arts, Valhallavagen 189, 115 53 Stockholm
 
10.00-10.10 The Cinema: Welcome to the first GEECT Thematic Meeting! Eli Bø (Professor of Design for Film), the GEECT Board.
 
She begins by introducing the university. The Dept runs BA, MA, PHD. Tomorrow Stockholm Uni of Arts (SKH) will present a day of their own research events.
 
Today is the first thematic meeting for GEECT, it’s a pilot. Apologies as there was a technical problem and they didn’t receive the proposals for calls for papers for this event. However, they are pleased with the response to this one through the number of people who registered and they realise it’s a topic that attracts interest and they plan to run another such event.
 
10.10-10.20 The Cinema: Short introduction to Stockholm University of the Arts (SKH) Ellen Røed Professor of Film & Media for the Profile Area Art, Technology, Materiality “Teaching filmmakers how to become artistic researchers”
 
SKH work in performing arts and moving image. They have Degree awarding powers. In Sweden there is a long tradition of artistic research for knowledge production and well established doctoral programmes. Tension between practice and practice as research. Considering practice as a form of research encourages the making of film that forges new connections, is rooted in curiosity and has a dialogue with the discipline and also other disciplines. Encourages interdisciplinitarity and risk taking. Traditionally film courses served the industry with skilled craft people and didn’t extend the discipline. Research was often been thought of as only being done through writing. But many practitioners do not feel comfortable with writing: their expression is through through own practice. So at SKH they run workshops for doctoral and research staff on performative and practice-led research. Their disciplines are collaborative. Their artistic research manifests as art making, sometimes also as pedagogy. They work to develop confidence in uncertain outcomes, criticality and research. In collaborative seminars they work together on the research questions, sharing and methodology for individual projects. By the end the researcher has developed their project. Every week they hold an interdisciplinary research seminar. Colleagues share research in a non-hierarchical environment in which all disciplines are respected.
 
10.20 – 11.10 The Cinema: KEYNOTE
Andrea B. Braidt University of Vienna (Dept. of Theater, Film, and Media Studies), President of ELIA European League of the Institutes of the Arts
 
ELIA is a network of art universities in different disciplines and has been producing policy papers about artistic research. SHARE – ERASMUS strategic project between 40 EU universities, an artistic research working group that she is chair of. They worked on Florence principles. Her background is film and media studies. 
 
Resistance to research in Film schools – people want to focus on the craft. So why is there such a research focus? The answer is the Bologna Declaration. Art schools gained the right to award doctoral degrees and to be considered as universities through signing up to this. Doctoral training is the advancement of knowledge through original knowledge. Supervision, interdisciplinarity and transferable skills are all crucial to this. Mobility became a key principle. Before this there was a system of powerful ‘father/mother’ supervisor figures who bestowed knowledge upon their students. Now this has changed and there is a more structural approach to research. Supervisors do not examine their own students.
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In Austria there are 21 Universities, with 6 art universities. Staff are obliged to conduct artistic research as well as to teach as part of their contracts. They also have a ‘third mission’ to transfer the knowledge to society, a social responsibility.
 
So what constitutes art research?
  • Generates knowledge
  • Asks a research question
  • Uses specific methods
  • Results are disseminated to peers (who the discipine’s community has decided is the appropriate channels, other people who do artistic research)
 
 
Florence principles looked at Salzburg recommendations to see if they were relevant to art universities. The bottom line is that artistic research produces art and contains a reflexive, documentary and discursive component. In discussions there was a strong argument (from Sweden) that the research could be all in the practice. But the reflection can be documentary. Supervision is separated from assessment – important move from previous years when the supervisor awarded the PhD.
 
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Frascati manual is for evaluation of research in maths and statistics. It gets updated every 10 years. So far artistic research is not considered to adhere for this which has implications for EU funding for research.
 
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Three approaches to artistic research.
  1. Critical. Annette Baldauf and Ana Hoffner argues that artistic research is fundamentally challenging to the field of science and the market. Perhaps their point is idealistic, and film/media has more connection to the industry than fine art.
 
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2. Essentialist. Or perhaps artistic research is something completely different to other forms of research as defined by Florence principles. Perhaps intuition is involved rather than rationality. Intuition is based on experience. Art is self referential and Is situated within has gone before.
 
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3. Pragmatic. Andrea personally takes a more pragmatic approach. It does meet the 5 core principles from Frascati. It is transdisciplinary like forms of scientific research that seeks to solve non-scientific research questions, like for example environmental questions.
 
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CASE STUDY of practice-based research in Film – UNEARTHING- Belinda Kareem-Kaminski, 2018
Post colonial transdisciplinary methodology re-performance and re-examining of archival photographs. Summary of the methods and research design. Phd student Kareem-Kaminski is looking into what is suppressed, regimes of looking, the dialogic.
 
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The talk ends on suggested topics to discuss in groups afterwards.
 
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11.30 – 12.30, Studio D1 – Debate and Q&A
Chair Andrea Braidt, ELIA
Jyoti Mistry, Academy Valand , University of Gothenburg Sweden
Pratap Rughani, University of the Arts London (UAL)
Moderator:
Manuel Jose Damasio, Chair of GEECT
 
RESPONSES:
Jyoti Mistry
Artistic research as pedagogic approach, a strategy rather than a method: how can you teach curiosity and uncertainty? Creating a space for experimentation, where students go on a journey with you. How do you frame an enquiry? Criticality, reflexivity and reflection. Knowledge is situated and anchored by hegemonic frameworks. Epistemological approaches are situated in a canon. There needs to be an awareness of place, aesthetics and ethics and strategies of foregrounding the political choices of ethics and aesthetics. Why are you choosing this form of representation? She personally believes ‘never story’. What if we think about the image, start with the image as starting point rather than the centrality of story? Although we are in the business of vocational training, creating skills for industry – this is not actually contradicted by artistic research. For the last 3 years she has run a project in ‘BRIKS’ countries using the CILECT network to look at the cultural specificity of images. There is no shared semiotics. They used research strategies that were playful, problem solving and involved intuition to solve problems in the field with students and other filmmakers. The benefit of artistic research in film practice brings an energy. This is an energising practice that she finds exciting.
 
Pratap Rughani
Introductory remarks. He is a documentary filmmaker (for BBC2 as well as in a gallery context). He is professor in documentary practice at LCC and responsible for REF. Explains the importance of this for UK Universities: funding, peer esteem and university rankings. LCC has recently joined CILECT. He is pleased to be back at SKH as he premiered one of his films here showed as part of the Inviting Invisible Evidence network. Asks the audience what labels they would be comfortable to use to describe what they do – filmmaker? Artist? Theorist? Educator?
 
For the UK it’s a difficult political moment right now. In research there is a domination of the arts by a language inherited from the sciences and humanities. Interesting cultural moment right now to stand on the ground in practice. How do we articulate our practice as research, image as enquiry, what kind of question are we asking, that will lead to communication? Potential for robust research, but what we could do better for research literacy, is to be more authentic in their own terms. Some filmmakers will say the material they work with is another person, a subject working with a subject. What does that imply for the ethics of making, the social responsibilities, the ethics of documentary film practice. Who makes their living from this? Who benefits from this? UAL has setup a centre for creative computing. Artists need to have an intervention in coding, in the broader social agenda of who controls new developments in technology. UAL is very diverse in the student body, but progression is not equal. Something weird is going on. The role of research has to ask these specific questions. What kind of an environment are we creating in our universities? All staff sound liberal when you talk to them, but look at the results – differential discrimination. So important for us to link ethics and aesthetic – who are we choosing to portray and how do we show them? Traditional African story – ‘If the Hunter is always the storyteller we will never hear the lions story’. We have the chance to make a difference through research.
 
Andrea B – questions identity of whether we call ourselves artist, researcher, filmmaker etc – it’s about what we actually do that is important. It’s not weird that students are not progressing well in liberal institutions – these very places are institutionally racist, homophobic, classist etc. It’s nice that Pratap thinks research could be part of the solution, but it is also part of the problem because it perpetuates the status quo.
 
DISCUSSION:
Manuel suggests as a starting question – Where does research take place in our institutions?
 
Michael from Belgium – all staff are supposed to be research active in his institution, but the problem is time. Because of amount of teaching hours. So the government has funding available to do research outside of teaching hours. But staff still find it problematic – they don’t know how to do research, how to get this funding.
 
Manuel – in order to have spaces for research, there needs to be funding, where does it come from?
 
Speaker from Helsinki – uncertainty challenges the tradition of education. He thinks this is a big challenge for staff who want safety.
 
Andrea B – perhaps there are different senses of uncertainty. In terms of Frascati- it is a type of research in which you are certain about the enquiry and methods, but not the outcome. How can you raise the level of uncertainty that is part of the artistic process. The EU Research Council, which is one of the core funding bodies for the EU, have a panel for artistic research. Artistic research experts can sit on the main EU panels if they have generated a critical body of research in their national context. This has important implications for national funding and the importance of support for research if your country wants a seat at this table.
 
Jyoti – legacy issues from previous centuries that artists have an emotional language and scientists have an imperical language. Artists have been always doing research. It’s about expressing it in terms of systemic procedures. We need to beware of thinking we don’t need to justify ourselves, we can just explain artistic research in terms of intuition.
 
Andrea – interesting exercise to look at historic works of art as artistic research, for example Mary Kelly’s ‘Post partum Document’ or

 
Pratap – Vertov is fascinating. He managed to keep working a bit longer in Stalin’s Russia by cannily appropriating the dominant language of the Communist party, although this work can be read in a number of rich and interesting ways. He managed to stay under the radar for a time, although subsequently fell out of favour and his later work was not seen for several generations..
 
Kerstin from SKH – the topic of vocational skills vs artistic research makes her think of research being done on Vertov’s wife and the underestimated importance of her editing. Filmmaking is a collaboration of practices, not necessarily about auteurs. The collaboration is between practices – the different disciplines that come together in a film. Filmmaking is not one practice but a collaboration of many practices. In SKH they are changing the film curriculum so that there is more of a collaboration between the different disciplines in coming up with the idea for the film, moving away from auteur centred approach to more of a devising model.
 
Someone else from SKH – research in filmmaking has been present right from the beginning -Melies and Lumière. Actually, any film has a period of research – preproduction, scriptwriting, what is the motivation, isn’t every film artistic research?
 
Andrea – looking at the field of music, research is said to be in the field of composition or conducting. Performing music is reproduction of sheet music made by someone else. In all fields, there is a difference between applied research (with a concrete aim, connected to an end product) vs ground or basic research (blue sky speculative research in which you don’t know what the outcome will be). Also, each piece of art may be original, but doesn’t necessarily have a research process behind it.
 
Speaker from SKH – questions that you have to answer when applying for a research grant are so similar to those you have to answer to investors. Getting a unique selling point in the film is the same as the novelty.
 
Andrea – the core difference is that funding for film production asks who is the core audience, this is not a research question from within the discipline itself. A research question is asked from within a disciplinary context. It’s not a commercial project aimed at entertaining an audience and making a profit.
 
Someone else from SKH who is a movies and neuroscience researcher. Cinematic and film research is different from artistic research. Innovation should be for the advancement of storytelling. He thinks that the innovation is happening in the Industry and not in universities. Can we learn from industry? Academic institutes are looking at the future, industry is looking at now (???). What are we actually advancing? Why is innovation happening more in industry rather than in education
 
Jasper from Belgium – there can only be artistic research if it is communicated and discussed afterwards. A PhD student in medicine does not just present the end result of experiments, but also the journey to get there.
 
Andrea –  actually, medical universities have a big problem because often the end result is presented – a treatment, a medicine, etc – but the journey needs to be shown, to see if the results are reproducible. Issue with research in universities includes supervisory capacity. Many university lecturers do not have a teaching qualification, but are disciplinary experts. Challenging to know how to make and also how to teach. Even more so in PHDs where many supervisors do not have a supervision training, so they are trying to train supervisors. And in reply to an earlier point, there is no question about artistic research – the EU says it has to be done in universities.
 
Pratap – literature review – what is doctoral standards? Since centuries ago there has been a tradition for respectable universities to give PHDs in music on the basis of music alone. Practice-based PHDs have practice, reflection and a practice and literature review. It is up to us to reshape the future form of practice-based PHDs. .
 
Andrea – ELIA has SHARE handbook addressing this. Invites us all to download this and to join ELIA.
 
Jyoti – artistic research shouldn’t be regarded with suspicion, but as a space for incredible exploration. Embrace the potentiality rather than resistance. Don’t cling to labels like ‘filmmaker’, ‘artist’, ‘researcher’. Embrace speculation.
 
13.30 – 14.40 The Cinema:
13.30 – 13.50: Case study 1 LA FEMIS, France. Presenter Aube Rabourdin
   “Artistic Research and Film Practice. Definitions, Approaches, Examples”
 
This lecture attempts a descriptive definition of artistic research with regard to film practice. We will look at various contexts for artistic research in terms of research strategy and politics, and open the discussion to how film universities can employ artistic research as a transdisciplinary field.
 
La Femis has been developing its research activity since 2014, notably thanks to its contribution to the artistic research PhD track “SACRe” together with other art schools which are part of PSL University (Paris Sciences & Lettres, an alliance of some 20 higher education and research institutions), and the development of its own research programs and numerous partnerships. The presentation will examine recent research projects: “Approaches to narrative in music composition and screenwriting” with Conservatoire de musique et de danse de Paris, “Cinema of autonomous struggles” with EHESS (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences), « Bringing exoplanets to the screen” with Observatoire de Paris, as well as “Filmographies” and “Beauviatech” on the history of techniques with Cinémathèque française and Université Rennes.
 
Research they are doing:
Archival
MA thesis
Is part or SCARe – artistic doctoral programme of 6 French universities
55 PhD students
70 supervisors
Each student has 2 practice and 1 Theory supervisors and a budget of €15,000 for a film
 
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Examples of other projects they are doing include oral history and collaborations between scriptwriting and music composition, cinema of autonomous struggles (typo in ppt slide) which had 3 associated symposia. They have also been working with astrophysicists to visualise their findings, which cannot be photographed. The students were given information about the exoplanets and their names and made models/ vfx/ films to speculate on what they might look like. This benefits the scientists as they have no images to show when they disseminate their research.
 
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13.55 – 14.15: Case study 2
Bilkent University, Dept. of Communication and Design, Ankara, Turkey.
Presenter Funda Şenova Tunalı, PhD
In 2018, Bilkent University, Department of Communication and Design adopted a new core curriculum to offer its students innovative and coherent education where the boundaries between theory and practice dissolve through artistic practices and research. The BA graduation project courses (Visual Communication Project I-II), and the MFA program in Media and Design were at the center of this change to enhance artistic experience and research. COMD situates itself in the wider range of communications to acquire an interdisciplinary nature.

 

The idea for this was the gap between 1st and 4th years. The HOW was there, but the WHY was missing.

 

This university teaches in English. In order to be recognised they are bound by Bologna agreement. When developing the curriculum they wanted a mix of studio process and theory. This has resulted in more variety in the kind of film practice that comes out. More questioning about what they are doing, their choice of media.

 
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14.20 – 14.40: Case study 3
Griffith Film School, Brisbane, Australia.
Presenter Professor Herman van Eyken
 
Their institution seems a young institution as the film school has just broken away from the art school. They have a DVA qualification – doctor of visual art. From now on they have to organise doctoral study in moving image independently from the art school. How can they boost their research agenda? In 2016 they hosted a conference on Ethics and Aesthetics. Shows a video of live mo cap with a female performer operating a CGI character in a red dress who satirises female performative tropes while lipsynching to ‘She’s not there’. The She’s Not There project opened the Griffith Film School’s hosting of the CILECT congress in Brisbane, 2016; conceived and directed by Griffith Film School staff, the utilisation of a virtual camera to re-present a pre-rendered animated performance for presentation alongside a live orchestra was unique in its mixing of media and modes of delivery. New research opportunities for the film school have emerged thanks to this project
 
Collaboration with Asian studies – they worked on a performance for opera in Hong Kong Arts Festival. 4 singers who will be transferred into animals, appear and disappear. Staff run the project, but students can work on it.
They have a course called Screen Futures – AI etc – which is part of the MA. They can get state funding in this area.
Collaboration with GOM gallery and Asian Pacific triennale.  Making a virtual reality avatar – took a 60 year old immigrant from Italy telling of his experiences to his grandchildren and he was made into a synthesbian avatar. They hosted SIGGRAPH conference on VR and are researching into high res photoreal synthesbian.
 
14.40 – 15.00: COFFEE BREAK
15.00 – 15.50 Studio D1 – Debate and Q&A
 
Moderator:
Guido Lukoschek, the GEECT Board –
Not possible to wrap up everything completely, but final discussion with 3 presenters.
 
Questions:
 
Kerstin from SKH – how open can you be with these big commissioned projects? How prescribed is the outcome?
 
Herman from Griffiths – for Hong Kong Arts Festival it was open and exploratory.
 
Guido – did the project generate income for the university?
 

Herman – yes, the curator was an alumni. Good funding from Queensland available. External funding is needed when you get a big project like

 
Aube from la Fémis – they just had a meeting with Netflix, they have had to look at private funding.
 
Herman – they have been offered funding from Google. Support in kind – use of google facilities.
 
Funda  – Bilkent – there is some funding for artistic research from state, but difficult, easier if they can cooperate with engineers
 
Herman – most funded research at their institution goes to written academic research.
 
Someone from Netherlands Film Akademie – question they are often asked is how relevant is research to the students, how does it filter into the curriculum? Also, a problem is that there is no money for students who experiment when they graduate. They fall between art and film funding and can’t get either. She feels a responsibility for putting these students out into the world.
 
Pratap – we need to work at the connective tissue, connections between film and research. Wider student curriculum needs to benefit from staff research. 2 of his PhD students are looking at re-examining the colonial archive. Who does it benefit? This is essential.
 
Herman – when they were part of the art school they had a research unit, but it was cut. It was not communicating with teaching at all. Too isolated. More interdisciplinarity needed. They took all the research funding.
 
Funda – Research needs to be built into the curriculum to give a new mode of thinking, more critical and questioning. More responsible for what they produce.
 
Someone from Film Akademie  – their promise to students is to learn through practice. They are not a university, but a film school. His background was film theory. He had problems with explaining Film analysis to production students whose only aim is to become practitioners not to become intellectuals. They are discussing it a lot, haven’t come up with a solution. 
 
Elli – SKH – wants to focus on film as a process not simply a product. Research is to go into the process of filmmaking and experiment. Applied research is different from artistic research, but film schools can practice in different fields.
 
Pratap – hold open the space for the difference of pure and applied research to be rethought. Can be a useful distinction but these labels can also be cages – can’t there be a new model?
 
Guido – in ‘proper’ films all scripts start with ‘what ifs’. You could argue that most films and at least all documentaries are research based. Do you try to relabel existing practice as research? What is to the benefit of students?
 
Maria – SKH – PhD students are at the cutting edge, trying to find something new, but we must also take care of and acknowledge what we already do, some of which could be considered as a research project and is innovative, aiming to get students to extend their thinking.
 
Guido – we should all be documenting this better. Film research is not all based on intuition, but we need to be able to prove the process, what has been done.
 
Kerstin – SKH – film industry has commercial side, you need money to provide a product, but looking over past years there are less examples of big commercial players who are likely to take a risk. They are less and less likely to fund anything experimental. Film schools need to be a place where future industry players are able to experiment. How can the film schools support experiments after the PhD – through post docs or artist in residence schemes?
 
Someone from the audience objects to practice based PHDs. Why should people pay for them? She finds it abominable that artists living a precarious existence have to then pay to do a PHD and then what is there for them when they finish.
 
Manuel – on the idea of transdisciplinarity, asks Aube from La Femis, the project with the Paris observatory – is transdisciplinarity a rule for all their projects?
 
Aube – no. Was mutually beneficial for both the artistic researchers and scientists, but they do different kinds of projects. It is a practice based school. Students don’t enter Into the school to think about their work. They just want to make films. To counter this they have workshops where students have to think outside cinema.
 
Pratap – at UAL they are thinking about what PHDs are. They are thinking about what doctoral qualities look like for practice.
 
Someone from Estonia – many different words for practice. We discuss after – praxis – putting theory into action; Christopher Frayling – Research for / in / about practice and Raymond Williams Keywords.
 
Guido – how did people think about having a 1 day thematic meeting.the board were aware of climate issues of people flying in, but thought it was well attended and useful
 
Someone from audience thought we lost the track of applying research in education
 
Someone else – suggested topic for future GEECT event – would be helpful if someone took an overview of the whole day, was hard to remember all the issues raised. Perhaps there could be a reading list to read up beforehand?
 
Eli thought that at the next event another institution will pick up the baton and run it how they choose.
 
15.50 – 16.00 – Summing up, thank you and goodbye!
Manuel Jose Damasio, Chair of GEECT
 
Manuel closing comments – positive that lots of questions were raised. Main objective was to test the format, so now they will send out a call for schools to host future thematic events. Next conference will be hosted at Westminster about archives, a specific slot will be about how this fits into teaching. After Oslo Nov 2020 they will put out a call for future thematic meetings. One possibility is to record the event and transcribe it afterwards. Following suggestions this morning they will launch a call for papers about artistic research for a special edition of the journal so papers can be published and discussed. Papers can include attached media. Frascati discussions will be announced in a new Vienna declaration on artistic research later this year. In the area of film we can add a lot to the discussion on collaboration. Also, how can Film schools offer supervision that is efficient and appropriate in our field. Another topic is works that are commissioned, how can you pick out original knowledge in projects with industry. How can we get money for this. Very complex. Took computing 20 years to get there. He also wants to invite people to submit papers to the Oslo conference.
 
Eli – tomorrow will present Research projects from SKH.
 
Manuel – thanks to SKH etc.
Venue:
Stockholm University of the Arts,
The Film and Media Department, Valhallavägen 189, 115 53 Stockholm
For any questions on this event please contact: geect.chair@ulusofona.pt

 

Call for Papers – Ecstatic Truth V: The Age of the Absurd

George Grosz - The Voice of the People is the Voice of God from The Face of the Ruling Class

Ecstatic Truth V: The Age of the Absurd
27-28th April 
2020 (in conjunction with Under_the_Radar, Vienna)

plus 29th  April – Under_the_Radar symposium, Vienna

Call for papers deadline: 16th February 2020

Ecstatic Truth is an annual symposium that explores issues arising from the interface between animation (in all its forms) and documentary (conceptualised very broadly as non-fiction), with a particular interest in the questions raised by experimental and practitioner perspectives. According to Werner Herzog, mere facts constitute an accountant’s reality, but it is the ecstatic truth (a poetic reality) that can capture more faithfully the nuances and depths of human experiences. Given that animation (or manipulated moving image in all of its expanded forms) has the freedom to represent, stylize or reimagine the world, it lends itself well to this aspirational form of documentary filmmaking.

For this, our 5th symposium, held in collaboration with the Under_the_Radar Festival, Vienna, our theme is the Absurd. George Monbiot has described our contemporary age of increasing social and economic inequality, mass extinction and impending climate breakdown as deliberate disaster capitalism in which the ultra-rich benefit as institutions, systems of taxation and democratic processes implode. Everywhere the killer clowns and kleptocrats are taking over, he argues, with ludicrous strongmen dominating nations that would once have laughed them off stage. Absurdity is what they seek in order to take advantage. Chaos becomes the profit multiplier for the disaster capitalism on which they thrive. Every rupture is used to seize more of the assets on which our lives depend.[1]

So how can we imaginatively and creatively respond to these killer clowns and the absurdity of a world being run to continuously make profit regardless of its sustainability? What is there to stand for if the world is perceived as meaningless and how to fight this complacency ? Can we use animation for activism, to re-animate our conscience?  How can we creatively challenge all this doom and gloom, and use our creative practice to navigate and challenge the absurd of our everyday lives? What is the role of humour, surrealism, the historic strategies of the Absurd and Central European Existentialism? Why does animation matter?

We invite speakers to respond to these ideas in order to reflect, speculate and imagine how the animated (or expanded manipulated image) form might elicit different facets of poetic truth through its unique language. We welcome proposals for 20-minute presentations, speculations, poetic reflections, rigorous questioning, even fierce creative opposition from both academic and practitioner-led perspectives. Selected papers will be published in a themed issue of the International Journal of Film and Media Arts.

The proposal should include an abstract of not more than 500 words and a short biography of no more than 200 words. Please send it to: ecstatic.truth.symposium@gmail.com

Further details of the Under_the_Radar Festival 2020 will be released in January.

Call for papers deadline: 16th February 2020


Ecstatic Truth is organised by: Birgitta Hosea, Animation Research Centre, UCA Farnham, UK; Pedro Serrazina, Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon, Portugal; Tereza Stehlikova, CREAM, University of Westminster, UK

With thanks to Under_the_Radar: Barnaby Dicker, Martina Tritthart, Holger Lang

[Image: George Grosz, ‘The Voice of the People is the Voice of God from The Face of the Ruling Class’ (1920)]


[1] George Monbiot, ‘From Trump to Johnson, nationalists are the rise – backed by billionaire oligarchs’, The. Guardian, 26/07/19

CALL FOR PAPERS. Cartoon animation: Satire and Subversion

Monday 17th Feb 2020
Animation Research Centre, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, Surrey

You are invited to submit proposals for conference presentations of 20 minutes.

Deadline: 16th December 2019
Notification of selection: 6th Jan 2020
Send proposals to: animationresearch@uca.ac.uk

Background

Fifty years ago (in 1969) Oscar winning animator, Bob Godfrey, established the Animation course at UCA, which was the first Higher Education animation course in the UK and his archive is held at UCA. As well as his work in teaching, Godfrey served as mentor and employer to many budding animators and is revered as an iconic figure in British animation. Although popularly known for his children’s TV series, such as Roobarb and Custard and The Do-It-Yourself Animation Show, Godfrey also created a number of more experimental and adult works that drew upon traditions of British satire, DADA and Situationism.

To mark the Golden Jubilee of animation at UCA, celebrate the irreverent and anarchic humour of Bob Godfrey and re-launch the Animation Research Centre at UCA, we are running a symposium in our new Film building at Farnham, that will be accompanied by an exhibition of items from Godfrey’s archive.

While the main focus of our symposium is on animation, we warmly invite interdisciplinary perspectives by scholars from other disciplines such as film, performance, illustration, comics, philosophy, psychology, queer and gender studies, etc. Our Keynote speakers are Steve Bell, Guardian cartoonist and Dr Sharon Lockyer, Director of the Centre for Comedy Studies Research, Brunel University.

For its themes, the symposium draws upon Bob Godfrey’s archive to call for papers that engage with the following questions:

Symposium Themes

Politics and propaganda from print to the pixel.
How have traditions of print cartooning from Hogarth and Punch influenced animation? 

Laughing in the face of adversity.
Is humour a form of survival strategy? What is funny for those who are historically the focus of caricature and the butt of jokes based on stereotypes? What is the comedy of the oppressed? What is satire for the subaltern? How are hegemonic discourses around colonialism, class, race, gender and regional identity resisted through laughter?

Dream Girls
Funny or pathetic? How do we deal with historic cartoon versions of male sexual fantasy? What do they say about masculinity? Are they due for a feminist re-evaluation?  Could they be read as a critique of patriarchy? Are humorous films about sexuality made by women different in any way?

It ain’t half hot, Mum
How do we discuss racial stereotyping and caricature in historical animation? What is the relationship between iconic cartoon characters and minstrelsy? Are there arguments for re-evaluating controversial works such as those made by the Fleischer brothers or Ralph Baksche?

What are we going to do now?
What were the influence of traumatic circumstances such as war and PTSD on animators during and after the two World Wars of the 20th Century?

Arty Farty
Is there a relationship between comic animation and post-war art movements such as DADA, situationist and theatre of the absurd?

Vader his dolly buns: subculture, sexuality and comic codes
How does insider knowledge of shared cultural conventions, such as camp, gender parody and ‘secret languages’ like Polari, slip undetected into mainstream animation? How has theatricality and performativity effected animation?

What’s up, Doc?
What is it that is just so funny about the cartoon character whose impossible, plasmatic body defies all the limits of the physical world and all social taboos about abjection?

—-

Organising committee:
This conference is organised by Birgitta Hosea, Emma Reyes, Jim Walker (Animation Research Centre)
Exhibition curated by Jim Walker
Supported by Felicity Croydon, UCA Archivist, and Lesley Adams, Programme Director for Animation, UCA.
Peer Review Committee: Birgitta Hosea, Chris Pallant, Caroline Ruddell, Jim Walker, Paul Ward.

Selected conference papers will be included in a proposal for an anthology, Cartoon Animation: Satire and Subversion, to Palgrave MacMillan.