Animate Assembly: Animation and New Life

Lead Research Organisation: Birkbeck, University of London
Department Name: English, Theatre and Creative Writing

Abstract

Animation today has proliferated into fields of 3D simulation and computational models, in contexts ranging from economic modelling and ecological activism to architectural and city design, medicine and surgery, educational formats and military training programmes. It has become a significant visualization tool for artists, cellular biologists, financial analysts and urban planners alike. Digital animations intervene in life processes at both the level of individual bodies, to prolong and destroy life, and at the vast scale of planetary phenomena. The political contexts and consequences of animation have changed so, that digital animation is now deployed in human rights tribunals, global activism campaigns and speculative future visions. Under these conditions, life is enmeshed in animation in the vast network of software, infrastructure and labour, which require studies far beyond the more limited and specific animation of the past, much of which unfurled in cinemas or on TVs. The expanded critical role of digital animation requires a reconsideration of the political and ethical implications of the animated image and a reimagining of what it means to propose animation as constitutive of life, with all the ontological and experiential resonances of this phrase: animation as a form of life, as a modelling of life, as a site for life-impacting decisions.
The research network will explore the implications of these new deployments of animation from 3 angles: Anime, Animism, Anima:
1. Anime, the Japanese term for animation, is grounded in Techno-Imagination. Since the invention of the cinematograph, images have been animated technologically. Hence animated cartoons by Disney, Russian 'multiplication' and the now globally consumed Japanese 'anime', which all participate in the evolution of a genre of 'images set in motion' by various components of the cinematic apparatus (pinscreen, magic lanterns, zoetropes). Our approach reaches beyond a media history of technically animated images and includes consideration of today's technologically guided imagination as it comes to the fore in South East Asian visions and theorizations of animated futures. To think about anime is to reflect too on the emergence and rapid domination of new animated forms such as AR and VR, which integrate animated experience into entertainment and everyday life and to consider the materials of animation, notably liquid crystals,which are a type of lifeform.
2. Animation grounded in Animism
Animation is encountered in the recurrent nightmare of Western Modernity named Animism. As scholars such as M. Taussig show, no such thing as Animism existed in the societies, cultures and practices decreed 'animist' by modern ethnography and anthropology. 'Animism' hints rather at a boundary of modern experience that accompanies the displacement and fetishisation of cultural-historical artefacts. Recently the diagnosis of an animist impulse has become a concern in contemporary art exhibition practices and finds echo in ideas of Vibrant Matter or Object Oriented Ontology and Speculative Materialism. Animation and new life of objects haunt our vision of 'the lively' and our relation to im/mortality (neuroscience); it induces a reconsideration of established dichotomies such as im/materialism and engenders debates around object-oriented ontology and Realist Magic.
3. Animation's root in Anima
In classical philosophy, Aristotle's treatise On the Soul, translated into Latin as De Anima implies neither a technological nor an animist impulse but a metaphysical one, that is, to ensoul. For Aristotle, the possession of a soul (psyche) is to be understood as the essence of living things and more so as the quintessence of human being. This strand of a wider understanding of Animation opens animation studies to discourses of the trans- and posthuman in contemporary technological and mediated environments. We need to assess the current resonances of anima in an animated environment

Planned Impact

Researchers in art and film institutions in the museum and gallery sector.

The development of a cross-displinary concept of animation as multi-layered cultural and techno-scientific phenomenon impacts on cultural institutions. The events planned across academic and non-academic venues and platforms, together with the networked form of the research outputs, aims to foster the creativity of contemporary media practitioners. The glossary, which is one way in which the research network conversations will be captured and broadcast, draws together academics and artists off- and online, and in the future will provide a platform along the lines of EAI Electronic Arts Intermix (New York), or AAA. The cross-national character of the Assembly supports research in non-institutional organisations that successfully place artistic innovation in global film production, including LUX, Artists' Moving Image (London) or MIACA, Moving Image Archive of Contemporary Art Tokyo and Hong Kong. The Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale (2012-) is an intended beneficiary, as this venue has indicated interest in outputs.

Website visitors from across the world.

The website that will be an ongoing space in which the research network activities are stored and worked on is open access and provides all materials produced (recorded seminars, lectures) unconditionally. It is open for non academic and commercial use under a Creative Commons licence.

Interested public.

Our commentated screenings will be open to audiences who frequent the Birkbeck and Goldsmiths' cinemas. They will be encouraged to contribute to the research network, by engaging in discussions on how the screened material develops our notion of animation in relation to hi-tech environments, integration of animation in lives, technical resources of animation for war and finance and law. The network will have an impact on Birkbeck's cinema which is able to disseminate the research methods to a wide audience/public, including children.

Our London research and networking events draw on an extended cross-generational and interdisciplinary body of researchers (working through practice and theory and both combined); as well as interested creative practitioners and other agents from other relevant institutions.

Knowledge and outputs will disseminate globally through the website and events, which will be recorded and processed.

The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities (co-director Esther Leslie) will host and publicise events related to the research network. The BIH gleans a large portion of its audience from constituencies external to Birkbeck. It disseminates its findings more widely through a much used podcasting service (Backdoor Broadcasting) that reaches listeners in their thousands.

International stakeholders will be reached via established parties of the research network's investigators, who will be invited to access and contribute to online and recorded materials.

Esther Leslie has presented work on animation for global institutions such as the Venice Biennale, the Centre Beaubourg, The Stedelijk Museum, NL, CONFIA in Portugal, ICOMAG, Tokyo, The Whitney, NYC, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Germany, and many smaller galleries and art educational establishments and publishing outlets.

Edgar Schmitz works with many partner institutions including UniArts (Helsinki, FI), Valand Academy (Gothenburg, SE), GradCAM (Dublin, IE), and the Nordic Research Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Art, 2017. Schmitz addresses wider audiences through his role as member of the editorial board for Goldsmiths Press, and as member of the international advisory board for ASAP Journal, Johns Hopkins University (US), both of which have signalled interest in AA research outcomes for publication.

Publications

10 25 50

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Leslie E (2021) Ontology of an Image in The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics

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Leslie E (2020) Devices and the Designs on Us: Of Dust and Gadgets in West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture

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Leslie E (2019) This other atmosphere: against human resources, emoji and devices in Journal of Visual Culture

 
Title Animate Assembly glossary website version 2 
Description Over the course of the last few months of the award, we began a range of discussions with artists, print specialists and web designers who could help us to develop a website, with printable elements that would do justice to the themes of animation and glossary. We carried out workshops with Nathan Jones, Sam Skinner, Caroline Sebilleau, and others, to focus attention on contemporary print possibilities, the interface between print and digital, the world of plug-ins and other discussions in order to conceptualise how we could gather and make accessible the results of the research network's many events. The website is ready to launch towards the end of March 2022. It has bespoke gifs and an experimental interface and it will be exhibited in Liverpool and Cyprus at shows. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact This project has had an impact on those within the network who have reconceptualised the relation between print and digital and been exposed to cutting edge design principles. It is yet to have further impact now it has been developed and will be launched and showcased as an experimental interface. 
URL http://www.animateassembly.org/
 
Title Assemblages (extracts) 
Description We were given permission to place an extract from a film, Assemblages, by Angela Melitopolous and Maurizio Mazzarato, on our website and to use it as the basis for a discussion. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact This led to an extended (recorced) discussion around themes that then encouraged us to push the glossary in new directions: the inconscious, :animate materiality, animism and Amazonian culture, the subject as thing. The discussion remained within the core research grouping, plus the filmmaker, but will be available on the website. 
 
Title Life After Animation 
Description A video essay on the history and form of animation made by a leading animation scholar, Deborah Levitt, and students Carolyn Ramella and Benjamin Titera. as a contribution to our glossary. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact This has proven useful as a grounding work for establishing both the historical meaning of animation and its shifts into the digital age. We have used it as a springboard for further reflection on the ways in which animation might be said to relate to life and liveliness. It will be hosted as a glossary item on the website we are building as a legacy and live website. 
 
Title Neutrino Horn 
Description We commissioned and acquired a neutrino horn fashioned by artist Lea Porsager -as a research tool and stimulus for further discussion. It is to be located on our developing project website. We developed a contract (below) which made us reflect on how an artefact might be a glossary entry, or a research tool. 1. A miniature neutrino horn, (version of an instrument used by scientists at CERN as they conduct experiments to test out theories about particles). This horn is produced specifically for Animate Assembly and is to become a focus for networked research events. It is a follow on from discussions amongst participants in the network in the prior research seminar with Porsager, Toshiya Ueno and Sara Mameni in the autumn of 2019 (which was enabled by the grant). 2. A title for the horn - also known as a "glossary title" for the Animate Assembly online archive, as stimulus for a discussion event in the Autumn of 2020. 3. A conceptual meditation on the ownership of the horn, or lack thereof. This is to be based on the concept from the CERN-properties, that are unable to be owned. This horn and associated materials will be held by the Animate Assembly archive and will be the focus of a series of online events in the Autumn of 2020. The neutrino horn and associated materials, which are key to ongoing discussions, will accrue to Lea Porsager a fee of £1500. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact It provided a stimulus for discussions around what it means to have outputs that are not textual or numerical, but situated somewhere between the artistic and the scientific (which was always a motivation of our project). We have not yet been able to do all the work proposed with the neutrino horn, but are planning events around it once it is positioned within the research website. 
 
Title Recordings 
Description Development of a web-based repository of our research materials and outcomes for open access, which includes links to all materials referenced by participants in the course of our studies into Animation of the present. This includes visual, audio, still, moving and text based material. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact This has been a useful resource for the project, so we feel we have captured everything that has occurred within the remit of the project, as it is crucial to our method that thi9s be available for second and third level processing and as a repository for others to work on further. 
URL https://art.gold.ac.uk/animate/
 
Description We have expanded what might count as animation. We have started with a notion, animation, which has commonly been understood to mean moving image entertainments, made through a variety of processes, such as cell, stop motion, CGI. We have taken this pedestrian notion apart in order to understand how the principle of animation - which we excavated in relation to its nested and cognate terms - anime, animism - might be seen to be at work more widely in our word today. In what ways are all sorts of phenomena animated - such as dust, liquid crystals, sand grains. Furthermore, how might we deploy and develop this understanding of animation collectively and in ways that would animate the very field of study itself. To this end we developed modes of workshopping and presentation that were always targeted towards developing what we termed a glossary entry. Glossary entries are provocative and imaginative definitional texts - that might be images, word, audio based, animated themselves - that extend the understanding of what animation can mean in the present. We made it possible, within our methodology, to introduce film, video and artworks, are primary research tools or glossary items. We also began discussions on how to make a vast quantity of gathered material become accessible in meaningful and useful ways through an interface of digital and print.
Update: February 2021
It became difficult to achieve our goals of networking with international and locally based artists and scholars who had pertinent things to say and show about animation. We worked our model of networking into an online mode. This enabled the key member of the research grouping to continue regular meetings. We were very keen to glean material and input from those we had initially wanted to bring together in workshops and conferences. To this end we commissioned written and visual and audio pieces to build up the repository on our website, in order to develop our glossary form. We devoted a certain amount of time to discussing how the glossary should be shaped. We also took time to comb over the contributions that were sent us and to think about the ways in which they developed our central theme of animation and new life. In the final stages of the project, some money from a Covid Recovery fund allowed us to plan a legacy website with dynamic and designed elements to showcase the network's materials and form the basis for future collaboration around the theme.
It was fascinating to work on these themes during the time of the pandemic - we were becoming animated presences on screens, performing our lives via zoom and skype, as we discussed the animation of new life, the liveliness of the digital world, the ensouling of technologies, the vitality of machines, the ghostliness of our presence. We found ourselves extending our scholarly and artistic microscopic into the smallscale - because of our engagements with pixels and with the granular - pollution and viral particles pressed on us the question of scale and what exists subperceptually. One result form this was the acquisition of a neutrino horn as a device for concentrating thoughts on thresholds of visibility and the animated aspects of scientific practice.

In the last year we were concerned throughout to extend the focus to non-Western and diverse bodies of work and participants. To this end we invited Japanese scholars and scholars of colour, and screened non-Western work,. We were also alert to gender distribution. We were keen to engage the question of animation with current topics that are ethically and politically sensitive, as for example in our session on Artificial Intelligence as an Act of Thought, by Ramon Amaro, which considered racial bias and the algorithmic as a type of animated sensibility. This was also evident in our work with Paul Roquet, which presented ideas of animation in relation to future technologies of surveillance and control. We engaged wit environmental questions, as they could be critically grasped through the concept of animism and its implications for the relation between humans and nature. We also found that it was possible to usefully include scholars at different stages of their career, from MA students to Professor through the creation of an intimate setting, laid out in a non-hierarchical manner.
The last period of the extended award was concerned with developing a website, as originally intended, but the process was more complex and intellectually demanding than we anticipated. We also developed a print publication and work for an exhibition of our glossary in Liverpool and Cyprus.
Exploitation Route We have set down a provocation to those who work within Animation Studies and restrict their object of study to that which is moving image material captured on film or related technologies.
We have trialled modes of collective knowledge production that others might use as a model. We have also tried to find ways to work in a cross, trans and multidisciplinary fashion, bringing various parties into dialogue to work collectively in relation to a theme that cuts across interest groups.
We have pushed the idea of interdisciplinarity and transdiscipinarity to a strong degree - and managed that in some ways through taking on the perspective of artist researchers - which is something one member of the team (Leslie) is to propose as a viable and desirable methodology for PhD research at Birkbeck, in a forum on 100 years of the PhD at Birkbeck. Hopefully, others will take these ideas onboard and into their own work. We have pressed the question of how to frame outputs in a digital age and how art might be directly a research tool and not just a byproduct.
Sectors Creative Economy

Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)

Culture

Heritage

Museums and Collections

URL http://www.animateassembly.org/
 
Description Our work all the way through has engaged artists and those working within technology and publishing. These varied interest groups have been exposed to our multidisciplinary methods, as well as the materials, with their manner of establishing connection, initially through linguistic resonance - anime, anime, animism - and then further in the idea of the glossary, as it works up usable definitions of key terms, both visually and verbally. In an exchange of knowledge in all directions, these various parties have confronted questions of how to integrate theory and practice, how to make knowledge tangible and graphic, how to use knowledge to enter a new production cycle of materials and how to use materials to enter a new production cycle of ideas. We all leave these encounters with an extended sense of what it is possible to do in the presentation and outlining of ideas and how a certain amount of risk-taking can be generative, in that it works along the seam of the intuitive and arational, two things that are never far from the object of study, animation. This project has been, in some ways, about the self-thinking of animation - and we are still working with it on that. Our recent discussions with artists and web designers will in the next few months take on tangible form in the glossary website - the discussions have been productive and transformative for the working practices of all involved parties. The animation of life has taken on stronger dimensions since the advent of the pandemic. Initially this scuppered the ways in which we had planned to work, through conferences and workshops, but we found a way of adapting, like everyone else, through zoom and skype and other tools. This adaptation led to more spirals of thinking about what it means to live on screen (which have now spawned further research projects). The rise of themes that we knew were pertinent, but became more so, such as pollution and the spread of viruses, both animated processes, according to our wide definition, pushed the project into new dimensions that will be further explored in the work of the core team, Leslie, Schmitz, Gfader and Hennig, not just as academic proposals, but in terms of artistic print output, short film form and in relation to artistic research. We received some additional funding to develop the website of the glossary, which had been an initial aim but took on increased significance over the course of the Pandemic. The extra funding allowed us to develop an experimental website with designers and artists and a print output - both of which will be exhibited at art exhibitions in Liverpool and Cyprus. It was an intense intellectual and artistic process of exploration - to understand how to develop the huge mass of materials and data that had accrued over the course of the project. The website launch in March 2022 and has become a cited resource. We have presented our methodology in academic and artistic fora.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description COVID-19 Grant Extension Allocation
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Funding ID COVID-19 - AHRC (EPSRC), 105109-10 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2020 
End 09/2021
 
Title Building a website 
Description WE have begun the process of building an artist-developed website with the glossary outcomes and as a repository of all the events that occurred under the auspices of Animate Assembly. It is both legacy and ongoing portal. We received £5000 extension funding to achieve this, but begun the discussions under the rubric of the current grant in September last year. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This repository explores accessible modes of print on demand and open access to a large body of materials in useful form - while maintaining an open and interactive structure. 
 
Title Glossary acquistion 
Description We are developing a multi-disciplinary multi-authored mode of research contribution. We name this the glossary. It involved commissioning people, including members of the Animate Assembly network to attend a session where they speak or present some materials which is then workshopped and developed, either by the person alone or collectively, as a glossary item for our developing and infinite glossary of animation of the present. We are testing out to what extend written, image-based, montaged, videoed and other modes of expression might contribute to a project tat attempts to develop new definitions, in a very expended field, of what animation has been, is and might become. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact We are developing new modes of authorship of research that are available digitally. We are concentrating on the modes in which this can become available in the final stages of our project and beyond, by working with a variety of editors and information workers. 
URL https://art.gold.ac.uk/animate/
 
Title Animate Assembly Glossary 
Description We are collating and in the process of working through all the materials generated as a part of the networking activities. These include recordings, audio and visual, glossary entries, show reels and bibliographies. These are to be worked through further in our remaining meetings and our end of grant aims are to generate a sustainable model for further outputs and modes of engagement. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This has served as a lightning rod for people to discover our research and our methodology and as a calling card to involve others int he generation of a glossary of animation of hte present. It has laid out a provocation to the usual methods of exploring animation - through its histories and through technical issues - and has become a reference point for experimental animation studies. It is still in development. 
URL https://art.gold.ac.uk/animate/
 
Description Animation Studies presentation 
Organisation Society for Animation Studies
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution We presented as Animate Assembly at the Society for Animation Studies conference titled Performing Animation, Animating Performance, at King's, University fo London, 14/12/2019. $ members of the network were presetn: leslie, Schmitz, Gfader and Henning
Collaborator Contribution We hoped to have a significant effect on the manner in which animation studies is researched, conceptualised and debated in the UK, and elsewhere, at this central organ of international Animation Studies. We were able to have some good discussions and make contact with a number of scholars. This is the material that appeared in the conference booklet: Animate Assembly 14: PERFORMANCES OF THE PARTICULATE, 14 December, King's College, with ANIMATE ASSEMBLY Animation today has proliferated into fields of 3D simulation and computational models, in contexts ranging from economic modelling and ecological activism to architectural and city design, medicine and surgery, educational formats and military training programmes. It has become a significant visualization tool for artists, cellular biologists, financial analysts and urban planners alike. Digital animations intervene in life processes at both the level of individual bodies, to prolong and destroy life, and at the vast scale of planetary phenomena. The political contexts and consequences of animation have changed so that digital animation is now deployed in human rights tribunals, global activism campaigns and speculative future visions. Under these conditions, life is enmeshed in animation in the vast network of software, infrastructure and labour, which require studies far beyond the more limited and specific animation of the past, much of which unfurled in cinemas or on TVs. The expanded critical role of digital animation requires a reconsideration of the political and ethical implications of the animated image and a reimagining of what it means to propose animation as constitutive of life, with all the ontological and experiential resonances of this phrase: animation as a form of life, as a modelling of life, as a site for life-impacting decisions. The Animate Assembly research network will explore the implications of these new deployments of animation from three angles: Anime, Animism, Anima. 1. Anime, the Japanese term for animation, is grounded in Techno-Imagination. Since the invention of the cinematograph, images have been animated technologically. Hence animated cartoons by Disney, Russian 'multiplication' and the now globally consumed Japanese 'anime', which all participate in the evolution of a genre of 'images set in motion' by various components of the cinematic apparatus (pinscreen, magic lanterns, zoetropes). Our approach reaches beyond a media history of technically animated images and includes consideration of today's technologically guided imagination as it comes to the fore in East Asian visions and theorizations of animated futures. To think about anime is to reflect too on the emergence and rapid domination of new animated forms such as AR and VR, which integrate animated experience into entertainment and everyday life and to consider the materials of animation, notably liquid crystals, which are a type of lifeform. 2. Animation is grounded in Animism: Animation is encountered in the recurrent nightmare of Western Modernity named Animism. As scholars such as M. Taussig show, no such thing as Animism existed in the societies, cultures and practices decreed 'animist' by modern ethnography and anthropology. 'Animism' hints rather at a boundary of modern experience that accompanies the displacement and fetishisation of cultural-historical artefacts. Recently the diagnosis of an animist impulse has become a concern in contemporary art exhibition practices and finds echo in ideas of Vibrant Matter or Object Oriented Ontology and Speculative Materialism. Animation and new life of objects haunt our vision of 'the lively' and our relation to im/mortality (neuroscience); it induces a reconsideration of established dichotomies such as im/materialism and engenders debates around object-oriented ontology and Realist Magic. 3. Animation's is root in Anima. In classical philosophy, Aristotle's treatise On the Soul, translated into Latin as De Anima implies neither a technological nor an animist impulse but a metaphysical one, that is, to ensoul. For Aristotle, the possession of a soul (psyche) is to be understood as the essence of living things and more so as the quintessence of human being. This strand of a wider understanding of Animation opens animation studies to discourses of the trans- and posthuman in contemporary technological and mediated environments. We need to assess the current resonances of anima in an animated environment. Across these constellations, animation may be understood as a discrete set of experiential and technological possibilities, on the one hand, and a generalised politico-economic set of conditions on the other. Drawing on the crossovers and proliferations afforded by this doubling, the Animate Assembly network aims to debate the currency and significance of analogue and digital animation studies in view of the fundamental transformations occurring in cultural knowledge. The assembly takes shape through invited contributors producing entries for a speculative glossary of animation today. Animate Assembly is propelled by Verina Gfader (currently affiliated with the City University of Hong Kong, Meaning and Narrative in Abstract Animation research project), Anke Hennig (Ruhr Universität, Bochum/ Central Saint Martins, London), Esther Leslie (Birkbeck, London) and Edgar Schmitz (Goldsmiths, London).
Impact Further discussions with leading scholars in the animation studies network internationally. Potential publication possibilities.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Association for the Study of Arts of the Present 
Organisation Association for the Study of Arts of the Present
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution As a group, several members of the Animate Assembly attended the ASAP conference staged in Hong Kong in June 2019. Its theme was Old Lands, New Ground". We introduced our unusual and preformative mode of presentation to the assembled members of the Association - around the themes of dust and sand - and engaged in discussions of both contents and modes of research and presentation.
Collaborator Contribution We attended the ASAP conference staged in Honk Kong. Its theme was Old Lands, New Ground". We introduced our unusual and preformative mode of presentation to the assembled members of the Association - around the themes of dust and sand - and engaged in discussions of both contents and modes of research and presentation. Our title was "Animate Dust's Ceremonial Settlements: Spots of the Present" and Animate Assembly was represented by Esther Leslie - Edgar Schmitz - Verina Gfader. This is how our contribution was framed in the conference booklet: Animate Dust's Ceremonial Settlements: Spots of the Present The roundtable presentation proposes multiple animacies of dust as way of re-assessing relationships between site, materiality, legibility and the mutations enacted in their interplay. Dust never quite settles into either substance or medium, effect or disturbance, operating instead in a range of registers only ever recognizable in their oscillations. Dust is particulate floating in air or gases. Each mote is an animate form combined into a cloud of particles. What does it mean to consider a dust cloud as an animate form? Dust has a particular relationship to digital photography - it is its nemesis, but it also encoded in that machinery in terms of pixels, as well as a communicator, in that dust produces an effect of backscattering of light in the resultant image. Dust and its passage across landscapes is monitored by the digital. In what ways can dust engage in critical ecologies, scooping up our thinking to move across terrains that are actual and imagined? Dust carries cultural and social potentialities, expressing particulars from different universalities. It envelops materials belonging to entirely different territories and when "dust particles are composed, they combine countless terms, languages and materials". (Negarestani). A question emerges: how to make the unsettlement and anonymity-the very sparkle of dust- 'belong by not belonging'? (Maharaj) How does animation consciousness help in this? For this session, dust is the sand in Woman in the Dunes, the sandpit as ruin in Robert Smithson's Monuments of Passaic, or the outer realm of the Gulf as hyper-object. Dust provides the reflective particles that constitute and irritate photography; the sparkle in early Disney scenes, the dust of cinema, its grains, and the eco-cosmology of a new indifferent kind. Speculating on producing a theory of animate dust, our presentation is formatted as a choreographic exercise in collective reading and viewing. Reference points: Michael Faraday and his hot air balloon; Woman in the Dunes; Footage of cosmic dust in ESA's Rosetta Space Mission; video game Dust: An Elysian Tail; Rosa Barba's film, Subconscious Society (2014); Reza Negarestani, Cyclonopedia (Melbourne, 2008); Sarat Maharaj, "Textile Art - Who are you?", in World Wide Weaving Atlas (Oslo National Academy of the Arts, 2017, 7-10). Animate Assembly is a discreet research hub, initiated by a cross-disciplinary and interinstitutional core group of researchers [Esther Leslie (Birkbeck, University of London), Edgar Schmitz (Goldsmiths, University of London), Verina Gfader (independent artist researcher, and affiliated with City University of Hong Kong), and Anke Hennig (Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and Ruhr University Bochum)]. The assembly takes shape through invited expert contributors producing entries for a speculative glossary of animation today. Contributions/ entries to date include 'ghosts of neen' (Miltos Manetas, Bogota/ New York), 'sweet science of images' (WJT Mitchell, Chicago), 'dance' (Jalal Toufic, Beirut), 'twine, wire, dust: on Moustapha Alassane' (Nikolaus Perneczky, London), 'face and inhabitation' (Federico Campagna).
Impact Ongoing discussions between members of ASAP and members of Animate Assembly. One member is already involved in the steering group and the relation is, in that sense, ongoing. It may result in publication of an article and eliciting of material for our glossary, but is still inchoate. Also led to a further invitation for one member of the network to extend discussions in Hong Kong: Verina Gfader, Neighbourhoods & Aliens, performance lecture for 'Elemental Dynamite: a Research on the Intermedia Practices of the Animated Picture,' Floating Projects/Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, Hong Kong, September 25, 2019. http://floatingprojectscollective.net/elemental-dynamite/#1581074092993-af667b6f-44fd http://floatingprojectscollective.net/art-notes/neighbourhoods-aliens-%E9%84%B0%E8%88%8D%E3%80%82%E9%99%8C%E8%B7%AF%E4%BA%BA%E3%80%82/
Start Year 2019
 
Description Bibliotech: exhibition and discussion of Animate Assembly 
Organisation Liverpool John Moores University
Department Liverpool School of Art and Design
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Animate Assembly (w/ Caroline Sebilleau & Antonio Roberts) exhibited artwork, in the form of the website and associated elements including a specially commissioned essay poster for a exhibition, plus contributed to a conference organised in relation to the exhibit.
Collaborator Contribution BiblioTech explores the changing role of the library, reading, writing, and publishing in a post-digital age. The title suggests the latin term for library, 'bibliotheca', and also alludes to how the library and book culture has become increasingly technologised. The exhibition asks: What is the library-as-institution in the context of advanced AI language tools, new forms of text and image processing, and the increasing spread of publishing technology into our lives? How might the library evolve within the next phases of digitisation entangled with issues of climate change, mental health, social justice, and automation? And how will print culture respond to these changes too? This exhibition also takes place at NeMe in Cyprus, running in both locations simultaneously for a period. The majority of works are presented in both locations, while some one-off works are exhibited in only one site. Accordingly, this crossover and correspondence creates a context to explore modes of reproducibility, presence and difference at play in print and digital-based artefacts, the library, and culture more broadly. By transforming the gallery into a library, composed of diverse publishing, reading, writing and learning practices, as reinvented by contemporary artists, BiblioTech seeks to playfully push against audience expectations for gallery and library alike. More broadly, the exhibition explores how libraries have become hybridised with other environments: from museums and schools, to bedrooms, computer-networks, labs and forests, opening up new conceptual space for the future of books; of how and where they are accessed, written and read. Curated by Torque Editions (Nathan Jones and Sam Skinner) the exhibition presented books published by Torque, a number of artworks they have produced (in collaboration with Tom Schofield) focused on machine learning and language, a selection of material from LJMU's Stafford Beer archive, and a curated list of shadow libraries. -- A symposium exploring projects within, and broader contexts to, the show took place on May 5, 3:00 - 6:30pm. Featuring Joana Chicau, Johanna Drucker, Gary Hall, Mel Jordan, Esther Leslie, Edgar Schmitz, and Emily Segal.
Impact An essay poster developing themes and contexts of the Animate Assembly research project - sent out to various participants
Start Year 2022
 
Description Presentation of Archive Centre for Anime Studies, Niigata University, Japan 
Organisation Archive Centre for Anime Studies
Country Japan 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We invited Joon Yang Kim of Archive Centre for Anime Studies , Niigata University, Japan to present some of the contents of the archive to us, so that we might collectively discuss the borders between different traditions of animation.
Collaborator Contribution Joon Yang Kim of Archive Centre for Anime Studies and Asian Link Research Center, Niigata University, Japan presented some of the contents of the archive before a number of participants in the Animate Assembly Network, so that we might collectively discuss the borders between different traditions of animation. We considered story boarding, annotations, narrative, depth perspective and a variety of other matters. We offered our various expertise in art and global animation traditions to explore the significance of the archive materials. We also explored questions and problems of archiving animated materials, what counts as ephemera and how does this matter become activated by theories and histories..
Impact It resulted in one of the Animate Assembly members, Verina Gfader, undertaking a research residency for 2 weeks at the Archive Centre for Anime Studies in Niigata University (ACASiN) with a talk on the graduate programme, Japan, October 2019.' talking with airports', Niigata University Faculty of Humanities Department of Humanities, Niigata, Japan, October 8, 2019. Led to publication of Essay in Archiving Movements: Short Essays on Materials of Anime and Visual Media (volume 2), edited by Minori Ishida & Joon Yang Kim. Archive Research Center for Anime Studies in the Niigata University, March 2020.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Artificial Intelligence workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact We were keen to get the perspective of someone critically studying artificial intelligence, in order to see how these debates intersected with our proposal on animation. We devised a casual workshop style presentation activity titled AI as a Mode of Thought.
Dr. Amaro's work emerges at the convergence of Blackness, psychopathology and the critique of computation reason. Dr. Amaro draws on Frantz Fanon's theories of sociogenic alienation to problematize the de-localisation of the Black psyché in contemporary computational systems such as machine learning and generative adversarial (neural) networks. Ramon Amaro pulls away from notions of psychic negation, as set forth by the Fanonian model of representation, aesthetics and racial transference, to investigate new more affirmative relations between the Black sense of self and racialised digital ecologies. His ultimate aim is to develop new methodologies for the study of race and technology by drawing on the generative potential of non linearity in machine learning research.
There was a lively discussion and a sense in which all in the room understood at a deeper level some of the invisible aspects of AI, especially in relation to race discrimination.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Film screening 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact We staged the UK premiere of a film by Kazuhiro Goshima, Different Cities (2006, 59'), with an introduction by Paul Roquet

How do you find your way through a city constantly changing in form and appearance? Tokyo-based video and media artist Kazuhiro Goshima's Different Cities explores how it feels to live inside a digital metropolis as easily reshaped as an architect's 3D model. A dispersed cast of characters wander the streets, attempting to get where they are going even as the contours of their city continuously transform around them. And in a back room somewhere, a man continually fiddles with the design, refusing to let the city assume a stable form. Looking back from the present, as real-time digital monitoring and modulation become woven ever deeper into the structure of urban space, Different Cities offers a striking early vision of a city not so much built as animated - and a sustained look at the complex relationship emerging between the animator/architect at the controls of this highly malleable environment, and the people enclosed within it.
This screening led to a discussion about animation in the urban space and the role of mental states in relation to city parameters., It allows for a re calibration of the division between anime and other genres of film.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Glass and Particles: A Workshop for Art Professionals 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Leslie was invited to a 3 day workshop titled Estover, organised by Abigail Reynolds at Kestle Barton, Cornwall, on 31 August 2019. I engage din discussions about sand and dust and the animated particle - and gave a formal presentation on one of the days to 20 arts professionals, who work in museums and heritage, as practitioners, as tutors in art schools and colleges. The reflection complemented the practical activities of the workshop, which involved making glass from the local sand and kelp.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.kestlebarton.co.uk/arts-and-events/abigail-reynolds-estover/
 
Description VR demonstration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Pete Jiadong Qiang was invited to display the work he has undertake in producing new Virtual Reality Environments. We discussed the implications o of his reworking of the traditional VR headset and experience in the light of our concerns as Animate Assembly. Pete Jiadong Qiang is a PhD student in arts and computational technology at Goldsmiths and trained in architecture at Architectural Association School of Architecture. His work focuses on the specific investigation of the bridges and interstices between pictorial, architectural and game spaces. His works range from architectural drawings, paintings, moving images to photogrammetry, augmented reality (AR) drawings, virtual reality (VR) paintings and games that form an idiosyncratic research methodology between the physical and virtual spaces with ACG (Anime, Comic and Games) and fandom contexts. His research tries to establish a new inventive methodology of Queer Maximalism by reusing the creative practices from ACGN (Anime, Comic, Game and Novel), fandom communities and autoethnography in VR (Virtual Reality) space in game engine. Both visually and acoustically, this new entanglement will redefine the concept of Portal with multiple HyperBodies intermediating between physical and virtual spaces.The particular part of research of Hyper-Sexual Body in Beijing and London is introduced to establish the idea of spatial autoethnography and lead to creative practices of shipping and modding in VR spaces from diverse Chinese gaming and fandom communities, within this maximalist environment of shipping and modding, it tries to create a possible maximalist ecology constantly intermediating between physical and virtual spaces.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019