Professor Suzanne Buchan Announced as Head of Animation at the RCA

The Royal College of Art is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Suzanne Buchan as Head of Animation. Professor Buchan will join the College from Middlesex University, where she was Professor of Animation Aesthetics in the Department of Visual Communication and the Director of the Art and Design Research Institute from 2013–15.

Discussing her appointment, Professor Buchan said: ‘I am galvanised by this opportunity to enhance research within the Animation programme’s internationally acclaimed legacy of artistic narrative, experimental and documentary pathways, which – alongside a contemporary and urban experience – we will strive to embed in art-world economies and exhibition practices. I see the future of animation as a pervasive, and persuasive, artistic visual communication form with an incisive and interdisciplinary role to play in STEAM thematics and the Royal College of Art’s transformative human-centred ethos.’

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. She is interested 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 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.

Professor Neville Brody, Dean of Communication, said: ‘Professor Suzanne Buchan is an exciting appointment to the School of Communication, and we are delighted that she is joining the team. As a leading figure in animation research, she is the ideal person to lead the discipline into the future at the RCA, building on its established and recognised strengths while introducing inspiring new areas of research and practice. 

He continued: ‘Animation is evolving rapidly, and Suzanne’s deep knowledge of the aesthetics and theory of animation, film and the manipulated moving image using interdisciplinary methodologies, alongside her strong industry, festival and media connections, will provide opportunities for students and staff to engage in discourses from architecture to fine art, to sci-tech.'

Professor Buchan holds an MA in English Literature, Film Studies and Anthropological Psychology, and a PhD in Film Studies from the University of Zurich, where she created the first animation studies curricula at the Seminar for Film Studies. She has been Guest Professor at universities in Tokyo, Portland, Krakow, Stuttgart and Vancouver and was Professor of Animation Aesthetics and Founding Director of the Animation Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts.

Buchan’s research interests 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.  Examples of her research include forthcoming articles: ‘memoria rerum: Animated Materiality, Memory and Amnesia, ‘The Animated Female Body, Feminism(s) and “Mushi”’, and writings on Inuit animation from Cape Dorset. Her recent books include the edited collection Pervasive Animation: An AFI Film Reader (2013) and The Quay Brothers: Into a Metaphysical Playroom (2011).

Buchan has given numerous public lectures and keynotes at film, media and animation conferences, is on the editorial board of a number of journals and is founding Editor and Editor in Chief of animation: an interdisciplinary journal (Sage). She has also initiated a number of postgraduate academic networks including the Animated Media Scholarly Interest Group of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies and the Network of European Cinema Studies Work Group for Animation, and was co-initiator and member of the UK Animation Group.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost Professor Naren Barfield said: 'I am delighted that the RCA is being joined by such a leading figure in animation as Professor Suzanne Buchan. Suzanne is highly respected across teaching, research and the world of professional practice and curating, and I can think of no one better placed to support Master’s and Doctoral students and introduce new areas of research, practice, technology and platforms in this fast-moving field of the creative industries. As Head of Programme Professor Buchan will bring her leadership experience to the School of Communication and to enhancing links with our creative industries neighbours and partners.’

Professor Buchan takes up her role in July 2018. Find out more about the Animation programme and how to Apply.