Call for papers – Ecstatic Truth VII: Decolonising Animation

EXTENDED Submission deadline: Tues 7th March 2023 (midnight)
Symposium details: Thurs 18th May 2023, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, Surrey, UK 
Submit proposals here via Oxford Abstracts:

Keynote:  Liliana Conlisk-Gallegos, The Coyolxauhqui Imperative (VR, 2020)

About Ecstatic Truth

Ecstatic Truth is an annual symposium on animated documentary founded in 2016 that explores issues arising from the interface between notions of animation and of documentary (conceptualised very broadly as non-fiction), with a particular interest in 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. This year’s symposium will be held at UCA in Farnham, Surrey and its theme of decolonising animation has been developed in collaboration with our Keynote Speaker, curator, producer and cultural activist, Helen Starr. 

Decolonising Animation 

Foregrounding subjective experience and freed from adherence to the physical, medical and scientific norms of photo-reality, just what is animation capable of? After a disappointing trip to Hollywood in 1930, Sergei Eisenstein travelled to Mexico where he socialised with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, absorbing non-Western ideas from a subaltern culture he very much admired and that clearly influenced his evolving thoughts on animation. In his writing on Disney, Eisenstein considers animation as a subversive form of shapeshifting that resists Western rationalism and binary thinking in its appeal to ancient, evolutionary memories of being formless protoplasm; to the limitless imaginative freedom of childhood and to a joyous return to a state of animism in which all aspects of nature are interconnected. He points out that animated figures squash and stretch with plasmatic elasticity; these unstable forms can change shape, species, gender or any other imposed boundary; can perform impossible tasks or survive death. 

Despite all of its potential, Eisenstein asserts that animated film ultimately lacks consequence and is an escapist, golden daydream: “Disney is a marvellous lullaby for the suffering and unfortunate, the oppressed and deprived.”[1]But could animation be more than escapism and be made to matter? How might animation engage with notions of the human, of possible worlds, of post-, anti- and de-colonialism? 

Coming from an intersectional perspective, this symposium seeks to listen to, unite, engage with and extend notions of opposition to ideologies of colonialism as applied to the practice and analysis of animation. All forms of colonialism, whether settler colonialism, exploitation colonialism, surrogate colonialism or internal colonialism, have one thing in common: the destruction of local and indigenous knowledge systems. Colonialism leaves in its wake extractive, material-based and non-sustainable cultures. How can we articulate and process these complex histories and struggles? Can animation liberate us from internalised empires of the mind? We are interested in debates around form and strategy as well as subject matter. 

Call for Papers

We invite practitioners and theorists working in non-fictional animation to consider the following questions:

  • What happens if we rethink animation as a visioning and performance ritual with the ability for transportation into a poetic reality?
  • What are the implications of animation’s capacity for world building and worlding? Could animation be used to represent non-Western knowledge traditions?
  • As an artform in which the conventional rules of science, space and time cease to function, can animation be used as speculative fabulation to evoke a magical and poetic state that excavates Western anthropocentric worldviews?
  • How can animation and animation studies have a dialogue with the work of post-, anti- and de-colonial theory?
  • What epistemological strategies can be used in animation to interrogate complex histories of injustice and contested land rights?
  • What processes and methods of participatory production and co-design might be used to tell many stories while resisting possibly extractivist/exploitative tendencies of production that may otherwise be prevalent in animation practices?
  • What colonial legacies do the tools and technologies of animation structure into our usage of them? Do the tools and technologies of animation practice reflect the interests of colonial legacies? In what ways might we be vigilant of these in order to question them and imagine technologies that work to counter such interests?
  • How can we rethink reductive notions of ‘primitive thought’ and ‘atavism’, as expressed in historic texts such as that by Eisenstein, and use animation to articulate indigenous knowledge and culture?

Submission Details

We call for papers, presentations and responses on our themes of decolonisation, in all its different manifestations, in relation to non-fiction manipulated moving image and animated documentary, in their most expanded forms. 

Submission is via Oxford Abstracts at this link: You will be prompted to create a free account with Oxford Abstracts.

Your submission should include:

  • Title of your presentation
  • Abstract (brief summary of your proposed presentation) 500 words (including bibliographic references)
  • Short Biography – 200 words
  • Relevant links to moving image work/websites etc.

If the paper is practice-based, it should include reflection and contextualisation in addition to presenting the practice. We will not accept papers that propose to show the practice only.

Finally, we are unable to provide feedback on individual submissions.

Keynote Speakers: Helen Starr and Liliana Conlisk Gallegos

Helen Starr, Founder @ The Mechatronic Library

Helen Starr (TT) is an Afro-Carib curator, producer and cultural activist from Trinidad, WI. She began curating exhibitions with artists such as Susan Hiller, Cindy Sherman and Marcel Duchamp in 1995. Helen founded The Mechatronic Library in 2010, to give marginalised artists access to technologies such as Game Engines, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR). Helen has worked with many public institutions such as Wysing Art Centre, FACT, Liverpool and QUAD in Derby. Being Indigenous-American Helen is interested in how digital artforms transform our understanding of reality by world-building narratives through storytelling and counter-storytelling. How, by “naming one’s own reality” we can experience the Other. Helen is on the board of QUAD, Derby and on the Computer Animation Jury for Ars Electronica, Linz. In 2020 she developed the concept of a Fluid or DAAD Futurism with Amrita Dhallu and Salma Noor.

Liliana Conlisk-Gallegos

Liliana Conlisk-Gallegos aka. Dr. Machete or Mystic Machete is from the Tijuana-San Diego border region in Southern California. With the goal of advancing the certain decolonial turn, her live, interactive media art production and border rasquache new media art pieces and performances generate culturally specific, collective, technocultural creative spaces of production that reconnect Chicana/o/x “Mestiza” Indigenous wisdom/conocimiento to their ongoing technological and scientific contributions, still “overlooked” through the logic of the decaying Eurocentric project of Modernity. In her Tijuana-San Ysidro transfronteriza (perpetual border crosser) perspective, the current limited perceptions of what research, media, and technology can be are like a yonke (junkyard), from which pieces are upcycled and repurposed to amplify individual and collective expression, community healing, and social justice. She has organized and curated over 14 community-centered, interactive, decolonial, community building, and environmentalist, research-based multimedia artivism and critical intervention performances and her work has been exhibited at ACM|SIGGRAPH, The García Center for the Arts in San Bernardino, Human Resources Art Museum in Los Angeles, the PAMLA Arts Matter of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association, and the Guizhou Provincial Museum in China. Her most recent curation was The Future Past v. Coloniality: Decolonial Media Art Beyond 530 Years, supported by the Digital Arts Community for ACM SIGGRAPH (

She is Associate Professor of Decolonial Media and Communication Studies at CSU San Bernardino and a member of the ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Committee. Her writings have appeared in Critical Storytelling from Global Borderlands: En la línea, Vol. 8, 2022 (Brill Publishers), Re-Activating Critical Thinking amidst Necropolitical Realities: Politics, Theory, Arts and Political Economy for a Radical Change, 2022 (Cambridge Scholars Publishing), A Love Letter to This Bridge Called My Back, 2022 (The University of Arizona Press), Departures in Critical Qualitative Research 3 Vol. 10, 2021 (UC Press), and Journal of Latinos in Education Vol. 20, 2018 (Taylor and Francis).

Organising Committee

This symposium is jointly organised by Professor Birgitta Hosea, Anna de Guia-Eriksson and Nikki Brough, Animation Research Centre, University for the Creative Arts, UK; Helen Starr; Dr Tereza Stehlikova, University of Creative Communication, Czech Republic; Tangible Territory Journal; Dr Pedro Serrazina, Lusófona University of Lisbon, Portugal.

Scientific committee also includes:

Balvinder Mudan, UCA; Dr Will Bishops Stevens, UCA; Jane Cheadle, UCA; Dr Yingying Jiang, BUCT


All questions about submissions should be emailed to

Ecstatic Truth is supported by: 

[1] Sergei Eisenstein, On Disney, trans. Alan Upchurch (London; New York; Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2017).

Ecstatic Truth VI: To Attend

International symposium in which expanded animation and experimental moving image intersect with documentary, 22nd April 2022, University of Creative Communication, Prague, Czech Republic 

Symposium programme

View the presentations here:

Etymologically “to attend” comes from Middle English (in the sense ‘apply one’s mind or energies to’): from Old French atendre, from Latin attendere, from ad- ‘to’ + tendere ‘stretch’.

At a time when attending an event can mean two things: being present in person or virtually, new questions are raised about what attendance means. If attendance and attention have the same etymological roots, can we consider attending as a form of attention rather than requiring physical presence? And if the essence of attention is its elasticity, can we argue that attention is able to stretch to overcome physical distance? That our shared attention (as well as time and virtual platforms) allows us to be in attendance, together, no matter how physically displaced we are.  

According to philosopher and cognitive scientist Lucas Battich (TT journal 3) shared attention not only helps us learn better, it is also multi-sensory. Is therefore watching a film together more illuminating than watching it alone, in separate spaces? What effect our new, so called “hybrid reality” has on our attention? Which role do the so-called proximity senses play in being attentive, attending to presence?

Attention is a precious and limited human resource which is under pressure: multiple forces constantly fight for our attention. Not just every day demands but social media, advertising and various other inventions of our late capitalist world, which understand that attention and money are intertwined. Attention is what makes us present, attention is learning, attention is the fabric of our experience, attention is being conscious, being conscientious, it is our future memory: we remember what we pay attention to, the rest becomes an unconscious assimilation of facts. And as we know from advertising methods, subliminal messaging can affect us on a level where we are unable to rationalise its effect, hence are more vulnerable.

Film (and moving image) as a medium has long been associated with memory: Like the mind it records and edits, what it deems significant. It can capture moments in time, make them conscious and preserve them for the future. It enables us, the viewers, to attend to the presence of those that came before us, even if they no longer share our everyday reality… Temporal and physical distances are bridged.

In association with Animation Research Centre, University for the Creative Arts, UK; Lusafona University, Portugal and Tangible Territory journal

Synaesthetic Syntax II: Seeing Sound / Hearing Vision

In this second symposium for Expanded Animation at Ars Electronica, we continue our exploration of affect: how animation is felt through sensory information processed by the body. For the second year, this takes a focus on inter-relationships between hearing and seeing.

From the early pioneers, both the audio and the visual components of moving image have been intrinsic to the medium. According to experimental filmmaker Walter Ruttmann (1887-1941), the ‘music of light has always been and will remain the essence of cinema’. Another pioneering avant-garde filmmaker, Germaine Dulac (1882-1942), connected this with movement, ‘cinema and music have this in common: in both movement alone can create emotion by its rhythm and development’.

Our intention with this symposium is to go beyond superficial, formal connections between sound and animated images to think about how the senses are engaged and thus the central role of the body in engaging with perception and experience. Indeed, philosopher, Maurice Merleau Ponty argues that synaesthetic connections –  the cross-wiring between all our senses – is at the root of perception, how we understand the world. In using digital technology we are working with a synaesthetic medium in which all sense perceptions can be codified as inputs and expressed in a common language of zeros and ones that can be fluidly interchanged.

In raising issues about the senses and the body, we are also responding to these peculiar times of pandemic when so much of our interactions have been mediated through a screen rather than through direct experience and physical encounter. We have chosen a range of different speakers who responded to our themes in different ways and I do hope you find all of the talks thought provoking and inspiring.

For more information go to

All talks are archived on the Expanded Animation You Tube channel.

Birgitta Hosea/Juergen Hagler, co-organisers

Ecstatic Truth V: The Age of the Absurd

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

Well it has certainly been one crazy year! We planned this symposium to happen in April 2020, but it had to be postponed because of the pandemic. Despite many obstacles, we have decided to go ahead with a series of 3 webinars on Tues 15th – Weds 16th December 2020 in conjunction with our partners Under_the_Radar festival Vienna and the University of the Applied Arts Vienna.

Ecstatic Truth V: The Age of the Absurd

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?

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


For more details about the speakers and to watch recordings of the different Webinars:

DAY 1 Tues 15th December

Webinar 1: The Many Forms of Censorship 
19.00 – 20.30 [Central European time]

  • Andrijana Ruzic: Recurring Elements of Absurd in Several Films of Zagreb School of Animation (1958-1969)
  • Gabriella Jutz: Animating Truth(s): Surveillance, Censorship and Journalistic Ethics
  • Susan Young: Who is, or Was, Ms A

Presentations followed by discussion and Q&A hosted by Birgitta Hosea

DAY2 Weds 16th December

Webinar 2: Subversion and Resistance: Defying Oppressive Structures
10.30 – 12.00 [Central European time]

  • Chunning Guo: Rethinking Injustice in the Age of Absurd: Re-Constructing Prisons as Narrative Spaces through Animated Memories
  • Max Hattler: Abstract Animated Documentary? Moving-Image Abstraction and Meaning-Making in Hong Kong’s Age of the Absurd.
  • Zeynep Akcay: Dance, drawing and repetition: an absurd manifesto about female body

Presentations followed by discussion and Q&A hosted by Birgitta Hosea

Webinar 3: Hidden Force: Celebrating the Invisible Labours
19.00 – 20.30 [Central European time]

  • Orla McHardy: x‘C: Maintenance Animation is a drag: it takes all the fucking time’ 
  • Sally Pearce: Shades of Invisibility. A case study in animation activism.
  • Oliver Gingrich / Sara Choudhrey: AYAH – Sign: Collaborative Digital Art with the Grenfell Communities

Presentations followed by discussion and Q&A hosted by Tereza Stehlikova.

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

Cartoon Animation: Satire and Subversion – presentations online!

All presentations from this one-day symposium that drew upon the legacy of acclaimed animator, Bob Godfrey, to examine the politics of comedy in cartoon animation are now online and publicly available to view free of charge!

Links below

We were also thrilled with this review of the day’s events by Dr Christopher Holliday for the Fantasy Animation blog

Opening Remarks: Tom Lowe / Dr Birgitta Hosea

Keynote 1: Dr Sharon Lockyer, Brunel University London, ‘Contextualizing Comedy Studies’

Panel 1: Performing Satire (whole panel chaired by Professor Paul Ward includes the presentations by Dr Maggie Gray, Pierre Floquet and Kate Jessop plus Q&A)

Dr Maggie Gray, Kingston School of Art, ‘Cartooning and Performance: Cartoon Style Alternative Theatre’

Kate Jessop, University of Brighton, ‘The Politics of Comedy: How has adult animation used satire as a vehicle for feminist cultural commentary’

Pierre Floquet, Bordeaux INP, France, ‘Tex Avery as the Noah Webster of Cartoon’

Panel 2. Absurdity and the Destabilisation of Authority (whole panel chaired by Jim Walker includes presentations by Professor Fran Lloyd, Sarah Tehan and David Wischer plus Q&A)

Sarah Tehan, Belfast School of Art, Ulster University, ‘Captain Phineas May. War Cartoons 1940-1946′

Prof. Fran Lloyd, Kingston School of Art, ‘Humour and the Subversion of Authority. The Animated Internment Drawings of Peter Sachs’

David Wischer, University of Kentucky, USA, ‘Prints in Motion: Amplified Absurdity’

Keynote 2: Steve Bell, The Guardian

Panel 3. Politics and Propaganda from Print to Pixel (whole panel chaired by Dr Birgitta Hosea includes presentations by Professor Paul ward and Dr José L. Valhondo-Crego plus Q&A)

Professor Paul Ward, Arts University Bournemouth, ‘Satire and Subversion in the work of Han Hoogerbrugge’

Dr José L. Valhondo-Crego, Universidad de Extremadura, Spain, ‘Subverting the myths of Francoism in the Spanish satirical press’

Closing Panel

Thanks to the University for the Creative Arts for supporting this event

Animation Research Centre:

Synaesthetic Syntax ‘Watch Party’ at IKLEKTIK London

[All of the events from this year’s Expanded Animation strand at Ars Electronica are now available to view online on their You Tube Channel.]

Come together on Sun 13th Sept for a Synaesthetic Syntax ‘Watch Party’ at IKLEKTIK London. At this socially distanced event, a small group of attendees can watch the online symposium from the final day of the Expanded Animation events for Ars Electronica on a big screen together. The presentations explore the interrelationships between audio and animation, between sound and vision. It is hosted by co-organiser Birgitta Hosea of the Animation Research Centre and a few of the UK speakers will be in attendance. This event is supported by the University for the Creative Arts. For more information and to book a free place, go to:

Synaesthetic Syntax: Sounding Animation / Visualising Audio is a one-day symposium that brings together animators, musicians, artists, technologists and academics to discuss the interrelationships between audio and animation. Papers cover topics such as synaesthetic connections between sound and image, the role of gesture, improvisation and presence in live performance and the creative use of geometric and algorithmic patterns.

Our Keynote speaker is media artist, Rose Bond, who produces work at the juncture of cinema, animation and experiential design. She will be presenting her latest animated collaboration with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra on a live performance of Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ars Electronica festival is mainly taking place online this year with a number of small events taking place at different associated venues around the world. The Expanded Animation strand will have a series of small, socially distanced Watch Parties in Linz, London and Portland.

Synaesthetic Syntax Symposium Schedule:

 10:15–10:45    Keynote: Rose Bond (CA/US), Sounding Together – Choreographing the Unpredictable

11:00–11:05    Welcome: Birgitta Hosea (UK), Juergen Hagler (AT), Harry Whalley (UK)

 11:05–12:40    Panel I: Hearing Colour Seeing Sound
11:05–11:10    Introduction: Birgitta Hosea (UK)
11:10–11:30    Vicky Smith (UK), Expanded Cinema and Para Animation: More than Audio and Visual
11:30–11:50    Alexander Stublic (DE), Presence and interaction in synaesthetic space
11:50–12:10    Sama Mara (UK), A Hidden Order – Revealing connections between geometry and music through harmony and mathematics
12:10–12:40    Panel Discussion (Chaired by Birgitta Hosea)

12:40–14:00    Break            

14:00–15:30    Panel II: In front of your eyes and ears
14:00–14:05    Introduction: Harry Whalley (UK)
14:05–14:25    Giusy Caruso, Bavo Van Kerrebroeck, Pieter Jan Maes (BE), PIANO PHASE for two pianists in VR
14:25–14:45    Umut Eldem (BE), Towards a “Live Synaesthetic Visualisation”? Considerations in Artistically Visualised Sound
14:45–15:05    Jānis Garančs (LV), Algorithmic conflation and re-configuration of audiovisual space and movement in the series of experiments with financial data audio-visualisations as immersive artworks.
15:05–15:30    Panel Discussion (Chaired by Harry Whalley)

15:30–16:00    Break            

16:00–17:30    Panel III: The Kinaesthetics of Music and Vision
16:00–16:05    Introduction: Juergen Hagler (AT)
16:05–16:25    João Pedro Oliveira (US), Gesture Interaction Between Sound and Image
16:25–16:45    Fred Collopy (US), A hypothesis-based approach to visual synthesizer design
16:45–17:05    Eric Dyer (US) Physical Presence and Material Desire: Eric Dyer’s sculptural and performative animation art practice
17:05–17:30    Panel Discussion (Chaired by Juergen Hagler)

17.30-18.00    Closing Note: Rose Bond (CA/US), Birgitta Hosea (UK), Juergen Hagler (AT),

Further information: 

Expanded Animation events at Ars Electronica:

Animation Research Centre at UCA:

Audio Research Cluster at UCA:

Research Degrees at UCA:



Call for papers: Synaesthetic Syntax

Expanded Animation 2020 –
Synaesthetic Syntax: Sounding Animation / Visualising Audio

[Image from Oregon Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia, courtesy of Rose Bond, 2020]

Submission deadline: 17th May 2020
Symposium details: Sunday 13th September 2020, Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria.
Submission link:

Faced with the infinite possibilities of faking through digital production, might there be a craving to return to that which is material and sensible: work that is improvised, spontaneous and can be experienced fully with all the senses? A move away from simulated, synthetic perfection to the handcrafted and the imperfect, which evidences the trace of human touch and intimate presence?

This year the Expanded Animation events at Ars Electronica extend into a dialogue about relationships between the senses, in particular the auditory and the visual. What are the rules, principles, and processes that govern correlations between sound and animation? How might these be explored, unpacked and reassembled?

Keynote Speaker

Our Keynote Speaker is media artist, Rose Bond, who produces work at the juncture of cinema, animation and experiential design. She will be presenting her latest animated collaboration with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra on a live performance of Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia.

Submission Guidelines

In response to these themes, we call for academics and artists to propose 20-minute papers that bring the disciplines of music, audio art and animation together from a variety of perspectives: from historical or theoretical analysis to new and surprising practice.

The proposal should include an abstract of no more than 500 words (including references) and a short biography of no more than 200 words.

Submission is via Easy Chair at where you will be prompted to set up a free Easy Chair account.

All selected speakers will be given a free pass to the 2020 Ars Electronica Festival.

List of Topics

Suggested topics include:

Hearing Colour Seeing Sound
Can music become visual? How did pioneers of visual music such as Oskar Fischinger and Mary Ellen Bute translate melody, harmony and rhythm into the form of animation? And can moving drawings become music? Is Oramics, Daphne Oram’s drawn sound machine, a form of animation? How can historic and / or contemporary practice demonstrate synaesthetic syntax?

In front of your eyes and ears
With a perceived disparity between the slow time taken to create animation and the instant time taken to perform music, how can animation be performed live? Can the audio and the visual be combined in improvised performance? How can live, hand scribing or music notation or coding or drawing be used to conjure spontaneous audio-visual performance? What is gained from real-time, instant creation in the present moment?

Repetition and difference is at the heart of rhythm, at the heart of the algorithm, at the heart of animation, at the heart of lived experience. Rhythm is everywhere. From the natural – visceral, internal rhythms of the body breathing and the heart pumping or the slow changing of the seasons; to the artificial – externally imposed rhythms ordering us through the ticktock of mechanical  clock-time or the ebb and flow of economic cycles. How does rhythm connect audio and animation? What might animation learn from audio and music theory and vice versa?

A Return to the Material
In an age of digital synthesis is there a craving for a return to the material? Do we long for haptic feedback and analogue experience: the touch of guitar strings, the feel of charcoal smearing under the fingers, banging a drum, painting on film? Is this simply a form of nostalgia or might it be thought through in new ways? How can it be brought together in the audio-visual?

Movement and Gesture
Whether performing an instrument or making marks for drawing, the gestural is a core part of human expression. How can kinaesthetic gesture be explored to create new kinds of audio-visual experiences?

Organising Committee

The organisation is a collaboration between:


The conference will be held as part of Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria.

[Disclaimer – we are operating under the assumption that social distancing will no longer be required in September and ‘normality’ has been restored].


All questions about submissions should be emailed to <>

Call for papers: Ecstatic Truth V


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:
Call for papers deadline: 16th February 2020

For more information about the call for papers go to:

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

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The talk ends on suggested topics to discuss in groups afterwards.
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)
Manuel Jose Damasio, Chair of GEECT
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.
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:
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
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.

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.

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
Guido Lukoschek, the GEECT Board –
Not possible to wrap up everything completely, but final discussion with 3 presenters.
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.
Stockholm University of the Arts,
The Film and Media Department, Valhallavägen 189, 115 53 Stockholm
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