Topic: The Sublime Figure of (In)animation
Animation has long been defined and analyzed as an art of movement. Drawing attention to the fluid movement of outlines in animated cartoon characters, Sergei Eisenstein proposes the concept of “plasmaticness,” which refers to the stretching, elongating, inflating, deflating, transforming, and deforming of bodily forms. Following this train of thought, we can see how Monkey, the main character of the epic Chinese classical novel Journey to the West, has become a defining figure of Chinese animation because Monkey embodies the animation principles of movement and plasmaticness due to its kinetic movements and fluid shapeshifting. If Monkey represents animation’s fundamental principles of motion and movement, who represents inertia, stasis, inanimation, de-animation, and even resistance against animation? If “the medium is the message,” what does it mean to use animation to animate or not animate someone or something? This paper addresses these questions by examining what I call the sublime figures of (in)animation, such as Tripitaka, Jade Emperor, Mao, and Stalin, who are often represented as static images or icons with the “portrait take” and resist being animated. The sublime figures of (in)animation are unanimatable, because to be animated means to be depowered. Their charismatic power and political agency increase with their decreased physical movements and emotions through image building. In other words, their political aura decreases when their aesthetic value as a figure of animation increases.
Time: 3:30-5pm, Thur, Feb 23, 2023, Hong Kong time
Zoom ID Number: 993 0061 2434