The Power Institute Foundation for Art and Visual Culture

The Illusion of Life (eBook)


Edited by Alan Cholodenko

If one may think of animation as a form of film, its neglect would be both extraordinary and predictable. It would be extraordinary insofar as a claim can be made that animation film not only preceded the advent of cinema but engendered it; that the development of all those nineteenth century technologies—optical toys, studies in persistence of vision, the projector, the celluloid strip, etc.—but for photography was to result in their combination/synthesizing in the animatic apparatus of Emile Reynaud’s Théâtre Optique of 1892; that, inverting the conventional wisdom, cinema might then be thought of as animation’s ‘step-child’.

And if this turn, this ironical inversion of the relationship of cinema to animation, is to be accepted, then the neglect of animation by film theory would be only too predictable. One would then have to conclude that cinema cannot be thought without thinking (its relation to) animation and that that thinking of the nature of animation would not only bring the film theorist full circle in a necessary return to the proto-history of cinema but would in that return challenge, even suspend, certain axioms of film theory and Film Studies—its reanimation. The essays in this book participate in such a process.

—Alan Cholodenko

The Illusion of Life: Essays on Animation is the world's first book of scholarly essays theorizing animation. It is based on an event of the same name, The Illusion of LIfe, the world's first international conference on animation and Australia's first large-scale international festival of animation, held in Sydney, Australia in July 1988. This book demonstrates the inescapable necessity for film studies to take account of animation in order to theorise film. It is essential reading for film theorists and filmmakers, as well as animation theorists and animators.

These essays also bring the latest poststructuralist and postmodernist approaches to the theorising of animation. In so doing, they not only illuminate the nature of the animated film but contribute to the theorising of the idea of animation as such. Broaching the relation of animation to representation and simulation, these essays engage with the most significant contemporary issues of the arts and media of our culture.

The production of this eBook has been made possible with the generous support of The  Nelson Meers foundation.

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