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The Living Metaphor in Animation

The idea of 'metaphor' has since the beginning of early film theory played a significant part in longstanding and ongoing debates about how viewers make sense of moving images. Along a similar line of reasoning, the idea of metaphor is also frequently used to argue for how the creation of new meaning, by deploying this particular meaning structure, sustain viewers' understanding of animated films that span across different animation aesthetics. While there have been given various explanations as to how the basic functions of metaphor operate to produce meaning in hand-drawn, stop-motion and computer-generated animations, there still lacks a more comprehensive theoretical understanding of the essential nature of the creation of unprecedented meaning through metaphorical significance in animated shorts. As well as the bearing of the specific techniques and technologies involved in the creation of the animations for the display of this meaning structure that seems to metamorphose both the visual images and our sense of reality.

I aim to address this gap in knowledge through an interdisciplinary perspective to consider a wide range of related debates that I perceive to be positioned in the intersection of animation studies, metaphor studies and modern hermeneutics. I first introduce into current debates in animation theory a set of core principles from a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to newly invented metaphors in poetic discourse. Guided by philosophical heuristics and hermeneutic principles, I thereafter demonstrate how the applicability of this understudied approach to metaphor can underpin an alternative methodology to current ones for the analyses of more meaning in a selection of analogue and digital experimental animated shorts. For example Conner Griffith's Auto (2016).

This thesis is intended for academics writing about audiovisual time-based media. It provides a theoretical basis for analytical approaches to metaphor in the animated experimental film form. The research outcomes will be presented in a monograph.

animated shorts; newly invented metaphor; plasmaticness; interpretation; film analysis

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More about Carmen

I have in addition to my practical training as an animator been investigating narrative, aesthetic and philosophical approaches to the animated film form. I am continuing this effort in my PhD project by focusing on critical and theoretical reflections on the metaphorical dimensions in experimental animated shorts by identifying and developing interpretive approaches to animation analysis. I am in particular occupied with methodological problems and my areas of expertise lie within culture and communication. More specifically within;

- animation studies
- metaphor studies
- film and media studies
- hermeneutics
- Paul Ricoeur
- philosophy (phil. of science, phil. of language, metaphysics and French philosophy, such as phenomenology, existentialism, structuralism and post-structuralism)

Profile image by RCA alumnus ©2019 Moritz Dittrich.

MA Animation Production, Arts University Bournemouth, 2014

BA Character Animation, The Animation Workshop, 2013

Feyersinger, E. & Hannibal, C. (2021). "A Virtual Roundtable on Relations Between Metaphor and Metamorphosis (4 part series)". In animationstudies 2.0., guest curated blog posts with contributions by Gabrielle Dulys, Andy Buchanan, Michael Dudok De Wit, Johannes DeYoung, Erwin Feyersinger and Carmen Hannibal.

Hannibal, C. (2021). "Metaphor and Symbol in HBO’s Westworld". In Fantasy/Animation.

Hannibal, C. (2019) "Metamorphic Identity Over Time: Interpreting Priit Pärn’s Some Exercises in Preparation for Independent Life (1980)". In Animation Studies Online Journal, Vol 14.

"Situating Animated Metaphors in Theories of Mental Imagery: From visual perception to imagination". Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Seattle USA, 13–17 March 2019

In January 2020 I founded the Society for Animation Studies affiliated special interest group Figurative Meaning and Metamorphosis in Animation (FMM-Animation).

I am also the convenor for the SIG and the SIG aims to support exploratory and interdisciplinary events and publications about: any traditions that deal with metaphor within animation; perspectives on the notion of metamorphosis and plasticity in animation; traditions that deal with symbolism in animation; any forms of figurative meaning in animation and studies of linguistic tropes implemented in animation.

For further information about the SIG, please contact me via fmm.animation(at)gmail.com