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Prof Suzanne Buchan, principal investigator

Suzanne Buchan- Pervasive Animation

Pervasive Animation. A Project of Prof Suzanne Buchan

The discipline and practice of animation has long had affinities with other creative practice that it uses for its production and critical discourse, for example, film studies, the fine arts, architecture and graphic design. Animation is also increasingly implicated in disciplines and artists who usurp it, embrace it or are invaded by it, and it figures significantly in ongoing media convergence.

I term this phenomenon 'Pervasive Animation', and it is a phenomenon with far-reaching future implications. Computer and web interfaces, sci-tech CG (computer generated) modelling, architectural design, computer games, distance learning and feature films that use synthespians are examples of forms of animation that are increasingly commonplace in working environments, as well as providing what the word 'animation' usually calls to mind when we think of it: entertainment.

Some of these examples are now so ubiquitous that we do not consider them to be animation in the traditional sense of the term. However, it is exactly these locations, manifestations and the medium non-specificity of animation that the wider 'Pervasive Animation' project aims to address. It is exploring not only how and why the techniques and imagery are finding their way into other disciplines and creative forms, but why and in what ways they affect and impact on individuals who are exposed to, influenced by and enjoy them.

Current Project

Exhibition: Pervasive Animation: Art, Work and the Everyday, Museum of Design Zurich (2015)

Exhibition Collaboration between The Museum of Design Zürich (MfGZ) Switzerland and Prof Dr Suzanne Buchan, School of Art & Design, Middlesex University.

The exhibition project is informed by Buchan's wider 'Pervasvie Animation' project to develop and promote interdisciplinary knowledge about animation production, distribution and consumption.

Co-curated by Suzanne Buchan and Andres Janser (curator, MfGZ) the exhibition will provide an opportunity to build on the museums' previous engagement with animation including Der getrickte Film und seine Möglichkeiten (The Trick Film and its Possibilities, 1972) and Trickraum : Spacetricks  (co-curated by Buchan and Janser, 2005 and travelling -see catalog cover right). It also emphasises the significance of animation in recent exhibitions curated by Janser including Type in Motion (2011) and Nature Design (2007).

The curatorial concept has a central goal: to enlighten visitors about the origins and development of animation they encounter in everyday life, and to raise awareness in visitors of the origins, contextual development and visual impact of animation beyond entertainment. It also aims to equip the visitor with knowledge to narrow a longstanding cultural divide between science and art and design, and the wider humanities.

It will also guarantee public access and interaction with the concept's reification in a continuum of artworks, consumer goods and moving images, allowing audiences to engage with ideas and artefacts simultaneously. Outreach is an important factor in planning and concept, and we plan to encourage lively discussion between artists, designers, businesses and a wide public.



Pervasive Animation. An AFI Reader. Suzanne Buchan (ed.) New York: Routledge, 2013

Pervasive Animation. An AFI Reader. Suzanne Buchan (ed.) New York: Routledge 2013. 374pp, 2 colour inserts. ISBN 978-0-415-80724-1

This new addition to the AFI Film Readers series brings together original scholarship on animation in contemporary moving image culture, from classic experimental and independent shorts to digital animation and installation. The collection - that Buchan conceptualised also as a philosophy of animation - foregrounds new critical perspectives on animation, connects them to historical and contemporary philosophical and theoretical contexts and production practice, and expands the existing canon. Throughout, contributors offer an interdisciplinary roadmap of new directions in film and animation studies, discussing animation in relationship to aesthetics, ideology, philosophy, historiography, visualization, genealogies, spectatorship, representation, technologies, and material culture.

CONTENTS: Pervasive Animation. An Introduction Suzanne Buchan SECTION 1: Preludes and Innovations 1. Expanded Animation: A Small Genealogy of the Idea and Praxis that Breathe a Soul into Dead Things Siegfried Zielinski 2. The Transforming Image: The Roots of Animation in Metamorphosis and Motion Tom Gunning SECTION 2: Material Culture 3. Animation’s Petrified Unrest Esther Leslie 4. Ecocritique and the Materialities of Animation Sean Cubitt SECTION 3: Life and Non-Life 5. Coming to Life: Cartoon Animals and Natural Philosophy Thomas Lamarre 6. A Cinema of Apprehension: A Third Entelechy of the Vitalist Machine Suzanne Buchan 7. The East Asian Post-human Prometheus: Animated Mechanical 'Others' Joon Yang Kim SECTION 4: History, Documentary and Truth 8. Socialimagestics and Cinemasymbiosis: The Materiality of A-Realism Mark Bartlett 9. ReAnimator: Embodied History, and the Post-Cinema Trace in Ken Jacobs' 'Temporal Composites' Jeffrey Skoller 10. Animated Documentaries: Aesthetics, Politics and Viewer Engagement Nea Ehrlich SECTION 5: Display, Process and Practice 11. Take the B Train: Reconstructing the Proto-cinematic Apparatus George Griffin 12. Spaces of Wonder: Animation and Museology Edwin Carels 13. Animation Studies as an Interdisciplinary Teaching Field Paul Ward.

Funding: The publication was supported by an AHRC Research Leave award and a Research Leave Award from the University for the Creative Arts, who also kindly provided funding for colour inserts and indexing.

Pervasive Animation Symposium, Tate Modern, 2007

Animation Symposium Tate 2007Tate Modern, Starr Auditorium March 2-4 2007.

This  three-day international symposium, co-curated by Suzanne Buchan and Stuart Comer, curator of film at Tate Modern, was the first output of Buchan's wider project that united speakers from a wide range of research agendas and creative practices. It featured speakers Norman Klein, Michael Snow, Vivan Sobchack, Tom Gunning, Suzanne Buchan, Anthony McCall, George Griffin, Beatriz Colomina, Edwin Carels, Siegfried Zielinski, Lisa Cartwright, Johnny Hardstaff and Esther Leslie.  The symposium facilitated much-needed dialogue that centred on the ubiquitous and interdisciplinary nature of animation, its future development, and its ethical responsibilities for spatial politics in moving image culture. It was where Buchan formed the conceptual basis for Pervasive Animation: An AFI Reader (above).

The opening panel discussion on Friday 2 March (watch here) was followed by a special presentation of Anthony McCall's celebrated 1973 'solid light' film event, Line Describing a Cone (watch here).

The event was a collaboration between The Animation Research Centre, UCA and Tate Modern. Funding: generous financial support from Arts Council England, and the University for the Creative Arts, from  Brunel University, and in-kind contributions from Tate Modern.