By Eileen Rositzka and Amber Shields
More than ever animation seems to inhabit our everyday experience, rendering new perspectives on the world. The last months have been a fruitful time for reflection and celebration on the appeals, insights, and variations that animation has to offer. Examples range from the critical enquiries inspired by the centennial of Scottish animator Norman McLaren’s birth to new approaches in aesthetic experimentation offered by Ari Folman’s recent take on the convergence of photographic realism and animated fantasies in The Congress (2013) to the continued smashing success and academy award wins by Disney’s Frozen (Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee 2013). These works, along with the continued creative output from the art scene, music and video game industries around the world, exemplify not only the diversity of animation but its prevalence in our lives. We could not agree more with our guest editor Dr Bella Honess Roe that animation is “everywhere and everything”.
This omnipresence calls for further critical engagement. With this in mind, the Film Studies Department of the University of St Andrews organised a symposium entitled ‘Approaching Animation: Critical Enquiries into the Art, Artists and Industry’ in April 2014 seeking to refocus attention on the historical and contemporary roles of animation across a range of moving image media forms. Inspired by the dialogues generated at the symposium, this issue furthers the discussion with critical insight from our contributors. Approaching the topic from theoretical perspectives informed by Phenomenology, Lilly Husbands and Slava Greenberg address the structural and social conditions of visibility by concentrating on speculative and marginalized perceptions expressed through animation. Kayla Parker points out the specific techniques used by Orcadian film-poet Margaret Tait to articulate a sense of embodied perception, while Alex Jukes focuses on the ways space is created and perceived through 3-D Computer Generated Animation.
We would like to thank our guest editor Dr Bella Honess Roe who not only served as an inspiring keynote speaker and respondent at the symposium, but also shared her expertise with the contributors and editors of this journal. We are also grateful to the University of St Andrews Film Department’s staff and postgraduate community, especially Dr Brian Jacobson, Heath Iverson, Andrei Gadalean, Connor McMorran, and Marcia Tiemy Morita Kawamoto. Finally we would like to thank Mike Arrowsmith for being exceedingly approachable in discussing our ideas about the journal’s redesign and in facilitating this project which we are happy to premiere with this issue.