While I wrapped up my schooling, this site took an unofficial hiatus. A year ago, I left my job at Blue Sky and returned to SVA in NYC, where I’d started on my MFA in computer animation in 2012. Overwhelmed, I switched to attending part time in my second year, before dropping out completely shortly after. That I’d gotten a job offer from Blue Sky was amazing timing for me, as it gave me an out that frankly, didn’t feel like a failure. SVA’s MFA Computer Arts program is an intensive one, teaching what normally takes four years jammed into two (or four, if you attend part time, but it’s structured and advertised as a 2-year intensive). Having only the most basic understanding of Maya prior to the program, I knew I was in trouble by week two of the program. Though when I dropped out, I only had two classes left, plus the final project, which seemed like an impossible thing for me. Even now, literally just finishing an animated short a couple weeks ago, making an animated short film still feels impossible. Even being handed my degree did not make it feel real.Continue reading
I’ve let this site get too precious, so it’s time to make some purposeful mistakes. It’s one thing to want each post to be of a certain quality, to have a standard, but what good is that standard if it prevents you from actually posting? That’s where the idea of purposeful mistakes came up, while I was at a podcasting class at my local library. A woman in the class, who’d never heard of podcasting before (she was tagging along with her daughter) was listening to me discuss my crippling perfectionism. That, when you know what you want but aren’t at that caliber yet, like when an artist has good taste but still doesn’t have the skill to hit it yet. This idea translates across every field, industry, craft, mindset. And in this woman’s case, quilting.
She told me this old wives tale about how mistakes were purposefully made in quilts because it’s apparently almost impossible to make a quilt without making a mistake. So the idea is that quilters would make an intentional one so that it’s over and done with and they don’t fret over it. Done is better than perfect, no sense in working oneself up over perfection.
This site has existed in my mind for many years now, and two summers ago, thanks to the same podcast class (this is my third time taking the class–it’s more a support group with friends than anything, now), it actually exists with eleven posts on it. But eleven posts in the span of fourteen months isn’t very good. Eleven posts where a decent number of them were posts that I bit the bullet to get out due to timing, like a crowdfunding campaign.
Intended as a foray into academic writing, I’ve gotten too self conscious and worried. Frankly, I’m just not at the level with my ability to write and research–to articulate, more specifically–in the way that I want to. In the way that my favorite books and articles are written.
So this very informal, non-academic post is my quilter’s error. This post is my purposeful mistake so that I can get on with things and start to write more consistently and be less rigid to the types of posts and the tone.
Welcome to Animation Complex. This is a newly created site intended to be a resource for people who want to learn more about animation in historical and cultural context. Animation is an amazing medium–it can tackle literally any subject matter, be targeted at any age group or type of person, and convey any type of emotion. It can be a powerful tool for education and instruction, to inform and to entertain. But it often doesn’t get that type of credit. More often than not, animation is seen as a genre. Fodder to distract children with, or toilet humor targeted predominantly at adult men. Animation has received little serious attention over the years. There have been valid attempts, with more books available now, and more offerings to the public in the form of talks with film scholars and dedicated museum exhibitions. But it’s still something that goes largely unnoticed in the larger film community.
That’s where Animation Complex hopes to bridge a gap. It is my sincere intention to introduce a more critical and educational perspective on the animation we know and love, while also keeping things entertaining and accessible. Although we will get into deeper topics, we hope to present them in a way that people who aren’t steeped in cinema studies can digest and enjoy. Through articles on this site, videos on our YouTube channel, and a podcast, we aim to shed light on animation culture. Additionally, we also look forward to diving into other related forms of sequential art, like video games and graphic novels!
To learn more about our goals, please listen to our introductory podcast:
A lot can be learned from a cartoon, starting with the actual production of it itself: was is mass-produced in the studio system? Created with a grant from a supportive government? Toiled away at for decades? Was it done with resources the creator invented themselves, or used with open-source technology? Who made it? How was it funded? Why was it made? Then of course, there’s the content of the film, which can of course be affected by all of the above questions, and more: how was it exhibited and distributed? How was the story conveyed? Who was the target audience? And beyond: what does the film say about race, gender, and class?
We sometimes ignore the deeper questions when it comes to animation, but it’s important, just as it is important to analyze any other piece of art. Viewed through an academic lens, animation can help us understand more about the intersection of politics, education, and entertainment. It is especially important because animation is so often one of the earliest forms of media we expose children to. We want to know what is being reflected in these films and shows, we want to understand how our current culture–how race, gender, sexuality, and so many other topics are being introduced, and we also enjoy seeing how it is presented or critiqued in animated films meant for older people.
Not only do I think it’s important to view ALL of the media we consume with a critical eye, but for me, it’s just fun. I honestly enjoy it. Some times of course, the information is depressing or angering, or sobering, but it’s amazing to be able to look at this amazing and beautiful and constantly evolving artform and want to see and expect more out of it.
So please feel free to stick around and join me on this journey. We’re just getting started! : )