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Professor Suzanne Buchan

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  • Professor Suzanne Buchan is Head of the MA Animation Programme. Her research interests and aims for the Programme are closely aligned with the School of Communication’s ambitions to contribute to addressing critically the evolving relationship between media, creative industries and social change, and new media forms, technologies and institutions. Besides teaching film studies and creating a number of the first animation theory and special effects curricula, she has designed and delivered multidisciplinary moving image courses for both practice- and theory-led students of architecture, fine art, fashion and film production at HEIs around the world.

    Buchan has published widely, is founder and editor of animation: an interdisciplinary journal (Sage), and is active as an exhibition curator.

  • Biography

  • Prior to joining the RCA, Buchan was Professor of Animation Aesthetics in the Department of Visual Communication and the Director of the Art and Design Research Institute (ADRI) at Middlesex University, as well as Founding Director of the Animation Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts. She is a guest professor at universities in Tokyo, Portland, Krakow, Stuttgart and Vancouver; and holds a PhD in Film Studies and Lizenziat (MA) in English Literature, Film Studies and Anthropological Psychology from the University of Zurich. 

    Alongside her research, teaching and writing, Professor Buchan is active as a curator and a consultant for international film festivals, museums and broadcast media. Her exhibitions include Animierte Wunderwelten/Animated Wonderwords (2015) and Spacetricks: Trickraum (2005) at the Museum of Design Zurich, which were both co-curated with Andres Janser. She was also a founding member and, for close to a decade, co-director of the Fantoche International Animation Film Festival, Baden, Switzerland and has served on juries at international festivals: ARS Electronica (Linz), Leipzig International Documentary and Animation Film Festival, AURORA Film Festival, and VIDEOEX Experimental Film Festival.

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  • Practice

  • Professor Buchan’s research positions animation as central to contemporary debates in visual culture, and as a primary driver of the digital shift and resulting changes in cultural metaphors. Her ‘Pervasive Animation’ research programme investigates in how animation infiltrates a wide band of creative and commercial practice, disciplines and platforms that impact and influence academic, artistic, political and cultural capital agendas, which in turn affect people in their daily lives.

    Alongside research, teaching and writing, Professor Buchan is curator and consultant for international film festivals, museums and broadcast media. Select exhibitions include Animierte Wunderwelten: Animated Wonderworlds (2015) and Spacetricks: Trickraum (2005) at the Museum of Design Zurich, both co-curated with Andres Janser.

    She has initiated a number of postgraduate academic networks including the Animated Media Scholarly Interest Group of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies (SCMS) and the Network of European Cinema Studies (NECS) Work Group for Animation; and was co-initiator and member of the UK Animation Group.

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  • External collaborations

    • Member of the AHRC Strategic Reviewer Committee (2013–14), Peer Review College (2001–14); AHRC Panel Chair, Collaborative Doctoral Awards and Videogames Networking Scheme (2013–14) 
    • Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), reviewer (2011)
    • Advisory Board member, The Gertie Project (University of Notre Dame, Cinémathèque Québécoise, the National Film Board of Canada, the Library and Archives of Canada) 
    • Founding Editor and Editor in Chief: animation: an interdisciplinary journal, SAGE Journals, ISSN: 1746-8477 (2005)
    • Editorial Boards of MIRAJ, Palgrave Animation 
    • Peer reviewer for Routledge, Oxford Journals, University of California Press,  Guggenheim Foundation, Swiss National Science Foundation
    • Curatorial advisor, Watch Me Move. The Animation Show, Barbican, London (2011)
    • Jury member at ARS Electronica, London International Animation Film Festival, VIDEOEX Experimental Film Festival , Stuttgart International Animation Film Festival, AURORA Film Festival, Leipzig International Documentary and Animation Film Festival
  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Exhibitions

    • Buchan, S. and Janser, A. Animierte Wunderwelten / Animated Wonderworlds (2015–2016). Zurich: Museum of Design.
    • Bob Godfrey's Britain (2012)Animation Research Centre, University for the Creative Arts.
    • Buchan, S. Bob Godfrey: Satire, Surrealism, Sex (2008). The Gallery, The Arts Institute at Bournemouth.
    Publications
    • Buchan, S. and Andres J. (eds) (2015) Animierte Wunderwelten / Animated Wonderworlds, Zurich: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich.
    • Buchan, S. (ed) (2013) Pervasive AnimationAn AFI Film Reader, New York: Routledge.
    • Buchan, S. (2011) The Quay Brothers: Into a Metaphysical Playroom, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Chapters and journal articles (selection)

    • Buchan, S. (forthcoming) ‘Memoria rerum: Animated Materiality, Memory and Amnesia’, in Muntean, L. (ed), Animation and Memory, Palgrave Animation.
    • Buchan, S. (2019) '(Re)Claiming Cultural Identity: The NFB's Eskimo Legends and Inuit Animation from Cape Dorset’, in  Marchessault, J. and Straw, W. (eds), The Oxford Handbook to Canadian Cinema, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    • Buchan, S. (2018) ‘The Animated Female Body, Feminism(s) and “Mushi”’, in: Smith, V. and Hamlyn, N. (eds), Expanded and Experimental Animation. Current Perspectives and New Directions, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 203–230.
    • Buchan, S. (2016) ‘Der animierte Mensch /Animating the Human’, in: Buchan, S. and Janser, A. (eds), Animierte Wunderwelten / Animated Wonderworlds, Zurich: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, 9–29.
    • Buchan, S. (2014) 'Short Circuits and Footnote Traces: The Quay Brothers' in Guldemond, J., Bloemheuvel, M. (eds) The Quay Brothers' Universum, Amsterdam: EYE Film Museum.
    • Buchan, S. (2014) 'Animation, in Theory', in Karen Beckman (ed) Animating Film Theory, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 111–127.
    • Buchan, S. (2013) 'A Cinema of Apprehension: A Third Entelechy of the Vitalist Machine', in: Pervasive Animation. An AFI Film Reader, Buchan, S. (ed), New York: Routledge, 143–171.
    • Buchan, S. (2013) 'Pervasive Animation: An Introduction', in: Pervasive Animation. An AFI Film Reader, Buchan, S. (ed), New York: Routledge, 1–21.
    • Buchan, S. (2013) 'Die Quay Brothers oder: «Die Produktivität des Fehlers', in: Montage AV,  Zeitschrift fur Theorie und Geschichte audiovisueller Kommunikation, 22 (2).  
    • Buchan, S. (2012) 'Theatrical Cartoon Comedy: From Animated Portmanteau to the risus purus', in: Horton, A. and Rapf, J. (eds) Wiley Companion to Film Comedy, Sussex: Wiley & Sons / Blackwell, 521–543.
    • Buchan, S. (2011) 'A Metaphysics of Space: The Quay Brothers Atmospheric Cosmogonies', in: Weinthal, L. (ed), Toward a New Interior: An Anthology of Interior Design Theory, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 527–545.
    • Buchan, S. (2011) 'Tricky Spaces: Animation, Installation and Spatial Politics', in: Wagner, B. and Grausgruber, G. (eds) Tricky Women, Marburg: Schüren Verlag, 134–144.
    • Buchan, S. (2011) 'Bruno Schulz's 'Generatio aequivoca': Sites of (Dis)Enchantment in the Quay Brothers' Street of Crocodiles', in: McAra, C. and Calvin, D. (eds) Anti-Tales: The Uses of Disenchantment, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 84–97.
    • Buchan, S. (2010) 'A Curious Chapter in the Manual of Animation': Stan VanDerBeek's Animated Spatial Politics', in: animation: an interdisciplinary journal, (5) 2, 173–196.
    • Buchan, S. (2008) 'Oscillating at the 'high/low' Art Divide: Curating and Exhibiting Animation', in: Judith Rugg (ed) Issues in Curating, Contemporary Art and Performance, London: Intellect, 131–145.
    • Buchan, S. (2008) 'Extracinematic Animation: In conversation with Gregory Barsamian', in: animation: an interdisciplinary journal, SAGE Journals, (4) 3, 288–305.
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  • Awards and Grants

    • ADRI Research Fund, for Animated Wonderworlds exhibition and Pervasive Animation publication (2013–14)
    • UCA Research and Research Cluster Fund, for The Manipulated Moving Image Cluster (2009–11)
    • UCA Teaching and Learning Fund, ‘Animated Histories Documentary, and ‘ARC Online Databases’  (2010)


Selected work

Research

Research interests

Research and publications focus on aesthetics and theory of animation, film and the manipulated moving image using interdisciplinary methodologies that incorporate discourses in cinema theory as well as phenomenology, architecture, fine art, sci-tech and literature.

Current and recent research

Book chapter

'(Re)Claiming Cultural Identity: The NFB's Eskimo Legends and Inuit Animation from Cape Dorset’, in: The Oxford Handbook to Canadian Cinema, Janine Marchessault, Will Straw (Hrsg). Oxford University Press, 2019.  

In the 1970s, the Animation Department of the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada produced Eskimo Legends, a series of animated short films based on Inuit legends and handicrafts. Concurrently, the NFB’s Wolf Koenig initiated an animation workshop in Cape Dorset that resulted in seventeen films by Inuit youths. The social and political contexts of Indigenous handicraft and art are essential for understanding the origins of the animated materials used in these films. Key historical, political, and cultural events and debates establish a context for exploring a set of linkages between economic and sociopolitical institutions that drove the development of Indigenous crafts and cooperatives. Considered alongside NFB documentaries and CBC news broadcasts from the 1960s and 1970s, this chapter demonstrates the relation between these developments and NFB animation studio filmmaking. The focus on Inuit animators’ films compiled in Animation from Cape Dorset (1973) recontextualizes, contemporizes and reclaims their culture’s arts, storytelling, and identity.

Animierte Wunderwelten / Animated Wonderwords, cocurated (with Andres Janser) for the Museum of Design Zurich (4 September 2015 – 10 January 2016)

Developed from Buchan’s research programme of animation as a cultural phenomenon pervasive in visual culture, occupying, informing and politicising many public, professional private spaces. The exhibition interrogated how animation is infiltrating everyday life via new media platforms and screens in the home, the studio and the workplace that use animation in a wide range of interfaces to design, instruct, entertain and influence.

Thirty-six primi inter pares works displayed in a museal architectural design and information strategy of five thematic spatial chapters expressed pioneering lineages, game changers, paradigm shifts, and refinements in development of genres, styles, and design. Media archaeology mapped origins of technology, design and data to frame and amplify developmental arcs to contemporary artefacts and iterations. The rigorous methodology was grounded in how the invisible and intangible can be technologically mediated, exploring the historical and cinematic impact of analogue and digital animation and its relationship to imagination.

Research students