By Dong Yang
The aura of contemporary art is a free association.
–Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics
In one of his later essays “Spinoza and the Three ‘Ethics,’” composed around 1990 and collected in the book Essays Critical and Clinical, Gilles Deleuze offers a mature and profound reading of Spinoza’s Ethics as a composite of what he calls “three elements” that coexist: “signs or affects, notions or concepts, essences or percepts.” Deleuze carefully revisited Ethics two decades after his systematic study of Spinoza titled Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza. In this later essay, he largely departs from his former approach that regarded Ethics as a philosophically coherent and consistent work and instead discerns an increase in speed and magnitude as the book progresses, a gradual abandoning of all demonstrative methods to reach “the absolute speed of figures of light” —namely, the Spinozian God. Three dimensions of meaning concurrently prevail in the same book, which recognizes—in the manner of geometrical demonstration—both the finitude of individual beings and nature as a composite of an infinite number of such beings that is also the expressive God. These three dimensions are the bodily signs that mark the increase or decrease of power through bodily and intellectual interactions with the external world; common notions, which are formed after one experiences repeated instances of external affects that gradually shape an awareness of the commonalities between all beings, namely, relations, speed, and slowness; and, finally, the abstract light or transformative force that permeates both Spinoza’s book and his theological system.
Deleuze’s late characterization of Ethics based on three dimensions of meaning serves not only to show the thought progress in the book but also, at a deeper level, to probe the various qualities of knowledge that undergird different images of the world. Particularly intriguing in this essay is Deleuze’s effort to visualize elements. Signs are presented as shadow and light—“Spinoza is closer to Byzantium than to the baroque” and common notions are described in the same manner as shadows retreating into the background or frame in Vermeer’s paintings—“Spinoza remains infinitely closer to Vermeer than to Rembrandt.” Essences, eventually, move beyond the representational to the abstract and, thus, the vital—“essences have a completely different nature: pure figures of light produced by a substantial Luminosity”. In addition to his innovative reading of Spinoza, Deleuze’s approach to the philosopher warrants some further attention as far as he here hints at the possibility of understanding philosophy by way of its imagery, or vice versa. This is not the first time this line of thought has appeared in Deleuze’s work. His insightful and comprehensive discussion of British painter Francis Bacon’s style in The Logic of Sensation a few years prior and the explication of the question of the figural (a reworking of Lyotard’s psychoanalytical conceptualization put forth in Discourse, Figure) or the Figure are notable precursors to this later essay. What remains puzzling, however, is the emphasis on Spinoza’s laborious focus on common notions as well as the visual representation thereof as geometrical figures and colorful shapes with mutable relations. Considered together, these two readings separated by two decades—a faithful reading that follows the logical and literary progressions of the work as well as an interpretative one that unveils the abstract operative elements and forces in the text that may not immediately come to mind—are not mutually exclusive but rather stress, with different points of emphasis, the co-presence of two or multiple planes of components within one visual image or an image of thought. Representation implicates abstractions, whereas abstraction gestures towards and often brings new light to figuration. In Deleuze’s readings of Spinoza, what matters most are the kinetic and synesthetic forces that constitute a third “virtual” plane that alternates between the planes of relational abstraction and figurative representation, which are divisible only at the conceptual level as they are already compressed and flattened as one full plane that ground the vitalism in the work of art or philosophical system.
It is this ceaselessly changing middle phase of our intellectual and affective course of understanding that fascinates both Spinoza and Deleuze. Situated in this framework, my essay examines some of Lei Lei’s recent animations through the lens of the notion of the figural, by which I mean a self-altering and, in a sense, self-deforming image grounded by strands of vibrant and relational forces and visual conflicts. Consequently, this essay contends that the most striking feature of Lei Lei’s style is not how the animator deals with the romantic sentiment, immediate feelings, or the problematic, cartoonish cuteness so prevalent in his character designs but rather how the animator delves into cosmic and expanded consciousness through the bold and creative usage of colored shapes and patches, either hand-painted or taken from paper cutouts. The overwhelming presence of abstract and nonreferential geometrical shapes—reinforced by the employment of an exciting and vibrant color palette—generates a sense of weirdness, and the audience is constantly challenged by the tensions, dynamism, and metamorphotic potentials associated with the figurative cartoon characters. Lei Lei’s aesthetic vision plays on the in-betweenness of the interacting elements, concrete and abstract, and his characters are constantly overwhelmed and enveloped by quantitative and grainy shapes and collages but remain visually distinct and at the surface of the frame. Thus, Lei Lei presents an open system in each animated piece, bringing together two qualitatively different and arguably incompatible visual components—abstraction and figuration—and yet keeps the figures sliding over the background of abstract shapes and lines to stimulate regional visual clashes along their movement trajectories, a style commonly found in the works of such mid-century experimental animators as John Whitney and Harry Smith. Lei Lei thereby creates a spectrum of sensorial valences through the relational interactions of animated characters and objects, the meanings of which are left to be assigned by the audience.
While elaborating on Lyotard’s and Deleuze’s conception of the image, D. N. Rodowick characterizes the notion of the figural as “ever permutable—a fractured, fracturing, or fractal space, ruled by time and difference—it knows nothing of the concept of identity. The figural is not an aesthetic concept, nor does it recognize a distinction between the forms of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture.” Note that Lei Lei’s work is not being understood herein as a demonstration of Deleuze’s or Rodowick’s conceptions of the figural but is conceived as a singular experiment, the results of which make the force and relation of the figural imagery clear. Indeed, no precise moment of the figural can be seen in his work. Yet, the medium of animation allows the artist to probe into the systematic conditions of the possibility of a figural art form, by precisely resorting to the kinetic impulses and relational dynamism that enable a consistent departure from identity and representation. To put it differently, his work is an artisanal experiment with the composition of imagery that fosters new sensorial experiences of animated shapes and figures whose identities are rendered incomplete via the qualitative and differential relations created by means of the juxtaposition of figurative characters and abstract shapes in the frame. As a result, we see the frame per se as, the pre-figural, becoming a possible field for the Figure.
As Lei Lei’s artistic style has matured since his earliest pieces such as Pear or Alien 鸭梨还是外星人 (2008) and The Universe Cotton 宇宙棉花糖 (2009), one crucial aesthetic element has gradually faded away—lines. In these two early stop-motion pieces, the audience is constantly overwhelmed by the abundant pen drawings (Figure 1), or a highly unique kind of paper cutouts composed of mostly pencil sketches (Figure 2) in the frames. Together, these works turn the image into a constellation of heterogeneous visual objects, which is reinforced by the effects of a shallow depth of field.
Figure 1: Pear or Alien
Figure 2: The Universe Cotton
These dense, distinctive, and recurring lines separate and even isolate each animated object and thereby indicate a well-wrought compositional strategy of balancing the cuteness of characters against other affective elements. Hence, a certain relational tension is embedded in these images—the demarcated and discernable objects collectively exert a sense of pressure on the already undersized protagonists and therefore occupy the audience’s visual attention. These early works loosely express the animator’s diagnosis of the social and emotional state of the Chinese Gen Y and his proposed cure—love, as the universal solution for worldly catastrophes (cliché though the idea may be). However, the visual and artistic experimentation undertaken in these pieces serves as a counterpoint to the cuteness and naivety of the narrative and visual features. It is as though Lei Lei is attempting to render them secondary to the holistic, collage-like images.
In Our Aesthetic Categories, Sianne Ngai aptly and timely recognizes that cuteness in a late capitalist society serves as a mediated affective relation that valorizes the unthreatening feature of objects, facilitating and perhaps accelerating the contemporary processes of commodity dissemination and reception. Through tenderness, smallness, and weakness, cuteness is capable of reviving and polarizing complex consumer responses, as it invites both aesthetic appreciation and an inclination for further aggressiveness. The appealing nature of cuteness comes from its departure from the traditional aesthetic concepts of fairness, symmetry, and balance and its reliance on the imbalanced power difference. Ngai explains how “The experience of cute depends entirely on the subject’s affective response to an imbalance of power between herself and the subject.” Cuteness, therefore, evokes in the audience a feeling of attraction to its tender and weak features, which activates a power-related consciousness, allowing the audience to objectify and execute power upon the cute.
This type of disguised and dangerous attraction becomes mitigated in Lei Lei’s work precisely because the objects composed of dense lines in the mise-en-scène contrast the various presences of cute figures, heart symbols, and colorful rainbows, all of which are homogenized and connected via similar pen strokes. The background objects are differentiated from the characters because of their stillness, which contrasts the moving rotoscoped characters on the cel and paper. The central feature of Lei Lei’s work is not simple storytelling or putting animated objects in motion, but the global consciousness that pervades the composition of images; Lei Lei creates a visual field that is both uniform, in terms of strokes and colors, and dynamic, in terms of contrasting speed and stillness and relative motion. As such, his work is unlike the Euro-American neo-avant-garde animators of the 1960s and 1970s such as Norman McLaren, Robert Breer, and Stan Brakhage, who selectively revitalized the bygone modernist graphic animation tradition of the 1920s and extensively explored the aesthetic possibilities of metamorphosis, ambiguity, and abstraction. Lei Lei instills a clear and consistent binary opposition and, as a more striking trait in his oeuvre, maintains such tensions with the result of rendering these invisible forces an essential component of the sensorial experience for the observers.
This early aesthetic style that juxtaposes identity and difference to generate a curious tension sets Lei Lei apart from the cartoonist tradition, making him more in line with such artisanal animators as Émile Cohl, Viking Eggeling, and Winsor McCay, who prioritize the presence of freehand lines and motion contrast in their designs. On various public occasions, Lei Lei has brought up his “One-Man Animation” to, perhaps, pay tribute to those precursors of what is now called artisanal animation, which appeared first as a characterization of the early mode of production that involved, primarily, an auteur animator and, at times, several assistants. Alla Gadassik aptly describes this approach: “A solitary animator can design and control every aspect of the frame, even personally draw the images or move all of the models. Moreover, the tactile traces of the artist’s hand on paper or its impressions in clay form an intimate physical bond between the filmmaker and the film.” The directness and immediateness of the artisanal mode of production stress both the quantitatively limited labor involved in the animating process and, more significantly, as Gadassik suggests, the essayistic and personal approach to expressing one’s style—arguably in an unconscious manner—directly onto the canvas or the cel. As Lei Lei explained during a TED talk in Shanghai in 2009, he does not use a script or storyboard, but imposes the flow of his consciousness and thought directly onto the paper. His work, from early on, has folded in both his artistic choice of sketched objects, tendencies, and movements and the organization of the animated elements in the frame. It also suggests an unfiltered and immediate sensitivity to invisible tensions and forces that elevate the work out of the perils of cuteness and simplicity.
A stylistic shift, initially appearing minor but that significantly transformed his visual system, is evident in Lei Lei’s work two years later. The line figures have become geometrical shapes illustrated in vibrant and variegated colors that do not immediately signify or refer to any concrete entities. Whereas his early animations predominantly featured line-drawn mise-en-scène objects enclosing line-drawn characters, Lei Lei’s more recent animation pieces, including his art installation Books on Books 书上的书, stimulate a drastically new sensorial experience, which is achieved by letting the figurative characters be enveloped by regular or irregular shapes, as in Missing One Player 三缺一 (2015) and This Is Not a Time to Lie 这不是一个可以说谎的时刻 (2014), or by rough lines that resemble shapes, as in I Don’t Like the Comics You Drew 我不喜欢你画的漫画(2018). Thus, his images depict new relations that bare the contrast between representation and abstraction (Figures 3, 4, and 5). The characters are now surrounded by ethereal and tangible cutouts. In shifting to this new style, Lei Lei is not assigning any static meaning or pattern to the animated images; He is leaving the space for interpretation open through the tangible relations generated through the uncategorizable and surreal tensions. It is as if after largely relinquishing the precision of resemblance and the order of things, the image regains its primordial and childlike naiveté, reminiscent of what Sergei Eisenstein discovers in the works of Chaplin and Disney.
Figure 3: Missing One Player
Figure 4: This Is Not a Time to Lie
Figure 5: I Don’t Like the Comics You Drew
This new sense of the image does not, however, register as an invention in Lei Lei’s animation tool kit, but as a geometrical expansion or prioritization of a trace already embedded in his early works. As shown in Figures 1 and 2, Lei Lei uses square grid paper as the material to draw on as opposed to the more common blank paper or index cards à la Robert Breer. The freehand lines and figures, as a result, become grounded by the ruled, regular, and repetitious patterns such that extra and unexpected visual information is added to the overall image. Certainly, the use of grid paper hints at a nostalgia toward the stress-free school years of childhood, but stylistically speaking, it brings in an otherwise absent element—abstract and nonreferential shape—into the image and causes a consistent disruption in its overall meaning, which is constructed gradually through the narrative and sequences. Seen in this way, the later works mentioned above demonstrate a conscious effort to shift those former abstract squares from the background into the foreground as a major component in the animated images.
The depictions of the idiosyncratic figures in Lei Lei’s oeuvre, alongside the persistent cosmic consciousness expressed through the extensive appearance of images of planets, rockets, and the galaxy, serve to challenge the laws of probability and physics and introduce a surrealistic sense that constantly evokes unexpected connections between elements of the content through interactions and motion. Thus, Lei Lei’s work entails a ceaseless flux that defies any attempt to assign its closure or end. The images in Lei Lei’s animations rarely display any in-depth association with the storytelling or rhetoric, with such associations at times being made through the soundtrack. The images appear to be a motley assemblage of various heterogeneous entities within the frame. As with the many avant-garde animators working from the 1920s onward, Lei Lei explores the animation medium not merely to represent figures but also to test the limitations of the image and the animation form, which sometimes involves a process of deforming the already-established figures in the frame. Lei Lei alluded to this at a public event: “If I have a dream, I’ll just draw it out. It’s a very free-flowing process. I feel so free and relaxed. And I enjoy myself very much in this creative process.” This line of thought reflects his idiosyncratic mode of animation production discussed in the previous section. In a more curious sense, it reveals the innate duplicity in the practice of independent filmmaking, one that entails the medium as both a venue for essayistic self-expression and a malleable tool to further test and expand said self-expression.
Jacques Rancière refers to cinema as having a dialectical inwardness that enables constant oscillations between resemblance and dissemblance. He calls this the “regime of the image,” which “presents a relationship between the sayable and the visible, a relationship which plays on both the analogy and the dissemblance between them.” An artistic image, be it standalone or in sequence, demands an aesthetic co-presence of the linguistic-conceptual meaning, the abstract idea, and the visible and figurative content. This strategy of composition, Rancière adds, would necessarily bring out discontinuities and conflicts as well as new units and communities. He writes,
By fragmenting continuums and distancing terms that call for each other, or, conversely, by assimilating heterogeneous elements and combining incompatible things, it creates clashes. And it makes the clashes and thus developed small measuring tools, conducive to revealing a disruptive power of community, which itself establishes another term of measurement.
Such a visual design of discontinuity or clash, Rancière adds, applies to both the sequence of shots or montage and the individual image itself, in the form of “photomontage.” At the heart of Rancière’s understanding is that the representational–abstract relationship, as seen in Lei Lei’s work, initiates numerous different clusters of elements and points to endless possibilities of connections, depending largely on the organization, disorganization, and reorganization of the visual elements and the relations between them following the chosen system of organizational measurements, whether large- or small-scale. The concern is less about what to present and more about how to organize it.
Nicolas Bourriaud looked back at the state of art in the 90s, on the cusp of the 21st century, and famously proclaimed that “art . . . is no longer seeking to represent utopias; rather, it is attempting to construct concrete spaces.” In an inspiring way, he demonstrates the intense desire to situate art within the broader range of the socius by redefining and reconceiving it as “a social interstice.” In this sense, the true value of new art resides solely in the social and cultural interactions the artworks or concepts engage with as well as the relations these social interactions produced in the process. Even though in the manifesto Relational Aesthetics he does not denies any possibility of future advancements in art, such a form needs to primarily address its social functions and be understood first and foremost as relational and convivial. Yet, Bourriaud may have treated the notion of relation too simplistically. The question that first needs to be asked may not be about how art can fit comfortably in the social milieu or relational assemblages, but about what kind(s) of relation art could offer. Is relation external to art and imposed by the observers or is it internal such that the relation of an artwork remains the same and cannot be altered during social exchanges?
Taking Lei Lei’s early and recent works together, one may identify the informative spectrum of relations between the figures and the abstract shapes, stripes, and lines. As was briefly alluded to earlier, a key feature in Lei Lei’s pieces is that the co-presence of various types of animated objects does not proceed into an obvious clash or collision, such that certain metamorphosis would take place; rather, the figures and the geometrical shapes remain largely unchanged in the frame from beginning to finish. In so doing, Lei Lei privileges the relative motions in the space of the screen and measures the relational valences when abstract and concrete figures are arranged differently. Consider This Is Not a Time to Lie, whose narrative unfolds based on a message in a drifting bottle, roughly describing the narrator’s devastating feelings after a breakup. Throughout the film, the various figures move around the screen and remain enclosed by various types of geometrical shapes while adjusting their positions through linear motions (Figures 6 and 7). The interactions between the figures and the abstract squares, stripes, and circles undergo no alterations to their respective compositions; rather, only spatial relations operating in between them are inscribed into our sensorial experiences. Even in instances like when the protagonist’s girlfriend turns into an umbrella and floats away, or when, toward the end, the protagonist plunges into the river and emerges again as a boat, such transformations are managed in a minute and allusive fashion and do not cause any change to the abstract mise-en-scène graphics and patterns.
Figure 6: This Is Not a Time to Lie
Figure 7: This Is Not a Time to Lie
This visual strategy reveals an aspect of the aesthetic consciousness operating beyond the narrative component of the animation to sustain the tension between the human characters and the abstract geometrical shapes and patterns. One might ask why the figures do not get lost or immersed in the background, especially given that the color scales match so closely (as shown in Figure 7). Lei Lei’s refusal to faithfully refashion formalism or dadaism and to practice pure abstraction in his work may come from a distaste for a purely formal and geometrical presentation of the image. In a slightly different context, Hans Tursack questions the validity of the exhaustive presence and exploration of geometrical shapes in contemporary architecture and produces a thesis that could help us understand the rationale behind Lei Lei’s style. As Tursack writes, “shape’s original (ill-conceived) polemic has developed into a culturally bankrupt aesthetic language. A victim of its own success, shape is an exhausted method that has lost whatever expressive potential it may have originally held.” In addition to the critique of the sluggishness of architectural innovation—a main point in his essay “The Problem with Shape,” Tursack rightly and more broadly points out our tired and overly exploited sensorial experiences regarding the abstract presences of high-formalist and high-modernist abstractions in artistic designs. The presences of figures in Lei Lei’s animations are thus necessary for both narrative purposes and visual balance, through the efforts of testing the heterogeneous as well as homogeneous relations so dynamically operating in the frame.
And these relations are, overall, weird. They are weird because the qualitative difference is understood as familiar and normal in the animation. In other words, the characters do not seem to acknowledge the presence of the abstract shapes and take them for granted as figurative, like themselves. Such a phenomenon happens in This Is Not a Time to Lie when the figures attempt to hold onto a cliff—composed of irregularly shaped stripes—so as not to fall into the abyss. It also occurs in Missing One Player, where a group of civilians is looking up to observe a planet hurtling toward the Earth at high speed (Figure 8). The geometrical patterns and thick lines do not seem to directly denote anything specific, but the characters are all focusing their attention on the out-of-frame planet and are therefore completely unaware of their incompatible surroundings. Through an innovative reading of H. P. Lovecraft, cultural theorist Mark Fisher shares some intriguing musings on the concept of the weird. The weird appears precisely because of a mild clash between an exterior and an interior, such that something unfamiliar or alien is brought into our perception and consciousness. Unlike Freud’s idea of the uncanny (unheimlich) which comments on the unfamiliar within the familiar as well as its reverse, Fisher’s idea of the weird involves a montage-like conjunction that brings out a third element that is neither ordinary nor inherent. Rather than serving as a negation of our previous experience, the function of the weird is to update our sensory storage and introduce the fictional into the real: “The weird is not wrong, after all: it is our conceptions that must be inadequate.” The regime of Lei Lei’s work is essentially weird in the sense that the assemblage of relations at work encourages the spectators to rethink the real and surreal, representational and abstract, and artifactual and communal.
Figure 8: Missing One Player
Animation as Animating
This essay sketches a stylistic shift in Lei Lei’s oeuvre, from his early pieces that extensively explore line figures and paper cutouts to his more recent animations that more deftly incorporate and exemplify abstract geometrical shapes, lines, and stripes. Such a transition is central to and shows a process of maturity in the conception and organization of the regime of the image. Lei Lei explores complex and qualitatively heterogeneous relations to engender new sensorial experiences while rejecting the wholesale embrace of certain avant-garde formulations.
This stylistic progression in innovation rests primarily on a return to visual cues from the old books, documents, and photographs from which Lei Lei finds inspiration for the cutouts in his animations. For him, these forgotten works contain essential elements that can still radiate stimulating perceptual and sensory experiences after undergoing a series of reworkings and rearrangements in the film medium. “I felt that for these old books, documents, photos, materials, because of time, they contain a particular kind of emotion and relation,” Lei Lei said in an interview. This hints at, in part, his conception of animation; a process that does not always involve absolute invention from the ground up but that concerns the insertion of connections between ready-made objects to present unexpected sensory pleasures. As Hannah Frank argues in Frame by Frame, the animator, like the cinematographer, seeks to devise visual strategies to bring out the forces and impacts within single-frame images like what montage does to our viewing experience. Lei Lei’s revisiting of old materials, therefore, serves not only as his ideal conception of animation, such that it is about the act of animating and rendering the interstitial relations but also as his technique of animating and, ultimately, reevaluating values.
 Deleuze, Gilles. Essay Critical and Clinical, trans. Daniel Smith (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 138.
 Deleuze, 142.
 Deleuze, 143.
 Deleuze, 149.
 Deleuze, 142.
 Rodowick, D. N, Reading the Figural, or, Philosophy after the New Media (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001), 46.
 Ngai, Sianne, Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2015), 54.
 Sitney, P. Adams, Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde, 1943–2000 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 269-274.
 Gadassik, Alla, “Independent Animators and the Artisanal Mode, 1947–1989,” in Animation, ed. Scott Curtis (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2019), 103.
 Eisenstein, Sergei, On Disney, trans. Alan Upchurch (London and New York: Seagull Books, 2017), 70.
 Lei, Lei, “TED@Shanghai,” November 15, 2009, Shanghai, China, 02:18-02:29.
 Rancière, Jacques, The Future of the Image, trans. Gregory Elliot (London: Verso, 2007), 7.
 Rancière, 56.
 Bourriaud, Nicolas, Relational Aesthetics, trans. Simon Pleasance and Fronza Woods (Dijon: Les Presses du Réel, 1998), 46.
 Bourriaud, 45.
 Tursack, Hans, “The Problem with Shape,” Log 41, Fall (2017): 45–53.
 Fisher, Mark, The Weird and the Eerie (New York: Repeater, 2016), 15.
 Lei, Lei, “LeiLei in Tokyo (The Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Vision),” dir. Go Takayama, February 2017, Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan, 00:50-01:03.
 Frank, Hannah, Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons, ed. Daniel Morgan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019), 23.
Lei, Lei. 2008. Pear or Alien 鸭梨还是外星人, Vimeo.
———. 2009. The Universe Cotton 宇宙棉花糖, Vimeo.
———. 2009. Speech in TED@Shanghai, Vimeo.
———. 2014. This Is Not a Time to Lie 这不是一个可以说谎的时刻, Vimeo.
———. 2015. Missing One Player 三缺一, Vimeo.
———. 2017. LeiLei in Tokyo. Directed by Go Takayama, Vimeo.
———. 2018. I Don’t Like the Comics You Drew 我不喜欢你画的漫画, Vimeo.
Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. Translated by Simon Pleasance and Fronza Woods. Dijon: Les Presses du Réel, 1998.
Deleuze, Gilles. Essay Critical and Clinical. Translated by Daniel Smith. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
Eisenstein, Sergei. On Disney. Translated by Alan Upchurch. London and New York: Seagull Books, 2017.
Fisher, Mark. The Weird and the Eerie. New York: Repeater, 2016.
Frank, Hannah. Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons. Edited by Daniel Morgan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019.
Gadassik, Alla. “Independent Animators and the Artisanal Mode, 1947–1989.” In Animation. Edited by Scott Curtis, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2019.
Ngai, Sianne. Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2015.
Rancière, Jacques. The Future of the Image. Translated by Gregory Elliot. London: Verso, 2009.
Rodowick, D. N. Reading the Figural, or, Philosophy after the New Media. Durham: Duke University Press, 2001.
Sitney, P. Adams. Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde, 1943–2000. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Tursack, Hans. “The Problem with Shape.” Log 41 Fall (2017): 45–53.
Dong Yang is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Chinese and Japanese at Grinnell College. His other writings on animation can be found in Film-Philosophy and The Canadian Journal of Film Studies.