Call for papers – Ecstatic Truth VII: Decolonising Animation

Submission deadline: Tues 28th Feb 2023 (midnight)
Symposium details: Thurs 18th May 2023, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, Surrey, UK 
Submit proposals here via Oxford Abstracts: https://tinyurl.com/mr32u3rj

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: https://tinyurl.com/mr32u3rj. 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 (https://decolonial-media-art.siggraph.org)

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

Contact

All questions about submissions should be emailed to ecstatic.truth.symposium@gmail.com

Ecstatic Truth is supported by: 

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