Ecstatic Truth VII: Decolonising Animation – recorded presentations, abstracts, bios, and live drawing

To watch the full symposium proceedings follow this link:


This symposium is jointly organised by Professor Birgitta Hosea, Anna de Guia-Eriksson and Nikki Brough, Animation Research Centre, University for the Creative Arts, UK; Helen Starr; Dr Tereza Stehlikova, University of Creative Communication, Czech Republic; Tangible Territory Journal; Dr Pedro Serrazina, Lusófona University of Lisbon, Portugal.

About Ecstatic Truth

According to Werner Herzog, mere facts constitute an accountant’s reality, but it is the ecstatic truth (a poetic reality) that can capture more faithfully the nuances and depths of human experiences. Given that animation (or manipulated moving image in all of its expanded forms) has the freedom to represent, stylize or reimagine the world, it lends itself well to this aspirational form of documentary filmmaking. This year’s symposium will be held at UCA in Farnham, Surrey and its theme of decolonising animation has been developed in collaboration with our Keynote Speaker, curator, producer and cultural activist, Helen Starr.

Decolonising Animation

Foregrounding subjective experience and freed from adherence to the physical, medical and scientific norms of photo-reality, just what is animation capable of? After a disappointing trip to Hollywood in 1930, Sergei Eisenstein travelled to Mexico where he socialised with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, absorbing non-Western ideas from a subaltern culture he very much admired and that clearly influenced his evolving thoughts on animation. In his writing on Disney, Eisenstein considers animation as a subversive form of shapeshifting that resists Western rationalism and binary thinking in its appeal to ancient, evolutionary memories of being formless protoplasm; to the limitless imaginative freedom of childhood and to a joyous return to a state of animism in which all aspects of nature are interconnected. He points out that animated figures squash and stretch with plasmatic elasticity; these unstable forms can change shape, species, gender or any other imposed boundary; can perform impossible tasks or survive death.

Despite all of its potential, Eisenstein asserts that animated film ultimately lacks consequence and is an escapist, golden daydream: “Disney is a marvellous lullaby for the suffering and unfortunate, the oppressed and deprived.”[1] But could animation be more than escapism and be made to matter? How might animation engage with notions of the human, of possible worlds, of post-, anti- and de-colonialism?

Coming from an intersectional perspective, this symposium seeks to listen to, unite, engage with and extend notions of opposition to ideologies of colonialism as applied to the practice and analysis of animation. All forms of colonialism, whether settler colonialism, exploitation colonialism, surrogate colonialism or internal colonialism, have one thing in common: the destruction of local and indigenous knowledge systems. Colonialism leaves in its wake extractive, material-based and non-sustainable cultures. How can we articulate and process these complex histories and struggles? Can animation liberate us from internalised empires of the mind? We are interested in debates around form and strategy as well as subject matter.

[1] Sergei Eisenstein, On Disney, trans. Alan Upchurch (London; New York; Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2017)

Panel 1: Participation and Memory: Diasporic Space, Violence and War

Chair: Jane Cheadle

Preserving Personal Stories of Diaspora Communities Through Participatory Stop-motion Animation

Nairy Eivazy (Presenting) PhD Candidate, LUCA School of Arts, Ghent, Belgium
Jan P.L. Peeters, Sandy Claes, LUCA School of Arts, Ghent, Belgium

Abstract: Diaspora communities, such as the Armenian diaspora, have lost their tangible connection to their homeland. They tend to carry objects with them that are representative of their roots and create a sense of belonging. Objects travelling along with diaspora members often hold personal stories. While these stories may seem insignificant and negligible, they do form collective expressions of intercultural exchange, displacement, loss etc. A prior definition of cultural heritage, put observable physicality at the centre, mainly considering monuments, objects and structures as examples of heritage. However, a shift in understanding recognizes cultural heritage in a broader sense as an assemblage of tangible and intangible forms including speech, ideas, interpretations, and memories. Considering this, cultural heritage has gone from being understood as property, an object, to being assessed as a process and emerging from oral or written stories, accounts and reflections, and performance. As such, the objects of diaspora communities and the personal stories connected to them are an essential part of the cultural heritage of these communities.

Stop-motion animation puts attention into inanimate objects and materials and brings them to life. This illusion of life happens not only by adding movement to the objects, but also by visualising the stories that they embody, by attributing human characteristics to the object (anthropomorphism), adding sound effects, written text etc. These unique characteristics of animation have been commonly used from its early days until now. However, in most animations, the viewers do not engage actively in the process of creating and visualising the stories of the objects. They are passively seated in a fixed position in front of a screen. This may result in the neglect of local stories and an internalized attitude of cultural inferiority, etc. However, the intricate process of creating a stop-motion has the capacity to engage individuals and communities in an active and creative way, to give them the agency to bring their own stories to life. More specifically, a participatory stop-motion animation process, in which participants are constantly and actively present in all stages, can encourage participants to pay attention to their objects and the connected stories. They can share their stories in a social setting, touch and place the objects and think of visual composition and sequential presentation. They can bring the objects to life by touching and moving the objects with their hands and visualizing the story attached to the objects. In this way, all the different stages of the animation process can trigger reflection and memories of the community, while manifesting the stories embedded in the objects.

Thus, the research question that guides this work is: how can a participatory animation process use characteristics of animation to document these expressions and stories? How can stop-motion animation give voice to the unheard stories by giving agency to participants to visualize their own stories? And in particular for this case study, how can a participatory stop-motion animation approach support a better understanding and preservation of the tacit knowledge of the Armenian diaspora community?

Bio: Nairy Eivazy is an Iranian-Armenian animation artist and researcher. Her work mostly falls into the field of stop-motion animation and inter-media practices. She holds a MA in animation directing from Tehran University of Art and currently she is a PhD candidate at LUCA School of Arts in Belgium, focusing on documenting and reflecting on memories connected to objects in the context of the Armenian diaspora.

Animating Memory: Creative explorations of migrant memories and postcolonial identities in the British Bangladeshi Diaspora 

Diwas BishtSchool of Digital Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom

Abstract: The British Bangladeshi diaspora is located at a complex intersection in postcolonial Britain. It not only embodies the unfolding legacy of the erstwhile colonial empire but is also a critical site of contemporary debates around race, religion, and nation. However, the links between Britain’s colonial histories and its dominant politics of racialisation and marginalisation of Muslims in the present remain unexamined. Using an innovative interdisciplinary approach that combines key concepts from memory studies, diaspora studies, and participatory animation methodologies, the paper thus locates how ‘hidden’ histories of colonialism, South Asian partition, migration, and settlement, are implicated in the community’s negotiations of the meanings of being British, Bangladeshi, and Muslim in the present. Mapping key shifts in the temporal and spatial locations of three generations of British Bangladeshis, the paper analyses how multidirectional anti-colonial and anti-racist memories are gradually forgotten as young British Bangladeshis increasingly mobilise a pan-Islamic identity framework to resist racialisation and alienation. More importantly, the paper showcases a case study that locates how collaborative animation filmmaking into these collective intergenerational pasts helps the younger generations of British Bangladeshis take on these critical but fading memories of the community, enabling them to articulate their own experiences of religious marginalisation in process. The case study including the participatory animation film made as part of it, documents the events surrounding the murder of Altab Ali, a young Bangladeshi migrant worker, amidst the rise of the Far-right racism in East London during the 1970s, exploring how this racist murder mobilized the community to take action and fight in a united manner against the violent racist forces of the time. By actively involving young community members in researching these anti-colonial and anti-racist histories and representing it through collaborative production of an animation film, the paper explores how it allows them to take on memories of these pasts and equips them with multidirectional ways to represent and articulate their postcolonial condition and challenges of xenophobic nationalism in the present. It further examines the potential of such creative memory products like the animated documentary to disseminate these memories and elicit further responses from within the community. Furthermore, through this case study, the paper not only offers a theoretical framework for using animation-based research in sociological contexts but outlines practical ways of applying these methodologies for socially engaged enquiries in the future. In process, it locates how applied memory work through participatory animation methods allows for the expression of the embodied and affective forms of knowledge and can be an effective tool for enquiring into the experiences and concerns of marginalised and underrepresented communities in the future.

Bio: Dr Diwas Bisht is a researcher and animation film maker currently working as a lecturer in animation at the School of Digital Arts (SODA) and as a Research Associate on a British Academy project, ‘Digital Media and Participation and Political Culture’ at Loughborough University. His recently concluded PhD research focussed on creative explorations of intergenerational memories and identities in the British Bangladeshi community through participatory animation methodologies. He also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Delhi University (2010) and a Master of Design (MDes) in Animation from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad (2013). His research interests include Diaspora and Cultural identity, Transcultural memory, Postcolonial studies, and Media studies. In his animation practice, Diwas bridges his academic research interests with collaborative, community led film projects to document marginalised experiences of the British South Asian diaspora. Over the last few years, he has worked with both community and academic partners like Swadhinata Trust, King’s College London, University of Liverpool, Loughborough University etc. on a diverse range of topics such as experiences of coronavirus pandemic, disaster heritage and environmental awareness amongst others.

Reimagining Spaces: Animation, Architecture and Anthropology

Paula Callus, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, United Kingdom

Susan SloanBournemouth University, Bournemouth, United Kingdom

Abstract: Spaces bear witness to often-silenced, everyday histories of, for example, civic resistance and societal cohesion, before or after war and violence. “Composed of intersections of mobile elements…in a sense actuated by the ensemble of movements deployed within it.” (De Certeau, 1987), space has the potential to embody layered contested voices. 

Over the course of two years, the AHRC research project ReSpace set out to critically engage youth in Rwanda, Kosovo, and the UK  through a series of art-based workshops, to research and reimagine specific sites using a combination of methods from animation, architecture and anthropology. Similarities of experience, of history, memory, and perhaps above all the over-signification of these post-conflict spaces (Rwanda, Kosovo), challenge standard assumptions about pre-war and post-war social realities. As insiders to violence but outsiders to each others’ experiences, the project set out to discover new epistemic grounds, exploring new methodologies, and empathetic learning.

A reimagining of place through participatory and experimental methods enabled a reconstitution of memory, stories and voice – ‘a vital human strategy for sustaining a sense of agency in the face of disempowering circumstances.’ (Jackson, 2004). Young people studying anthropology (Prishtina, Kosovo), architecture and animation (Kigali, Rwanda) shared their methods with each other as they reflected upon how to come to understand a place/ space as a post-memory generation (Hirsh, 2008) in a post-conflict context. A re-invention of these spaces was explored through animation methods using the Quill, interactive platforms (Unreal), stop-motion, direct and under-the-camera animation. 

In this presentation, Paula Callus and Susan Sloan (artist & practitioner) will revisit the animations created with/by young people on this project to consider how these interdisciplinary methods enabled different articulations of histories and memory. We will consider what sets of knowledge can be activated through animation practice that cannot be articulated through conventional research methods – or as anthropologist Tim Ingold (2013) put it, how does one think through making? 

Project Details: ( )

Bio: Prof. Paula Callus is based at the National Centre for Computer Animation, Faculty of Media and Communication, Bournemouth University. She has led on two AHRC funded research projects, Artop: The Visual Articulations of Politics in Nigeria, and ReSpace (Reanimating Contested Spaces): Designing Participatory Civic Education for and with Young People in Kosovo and Rwanda. Her research expertise is in Sub-Saharan African animation, the socially engaged arts and Global South. Callus has worked as a consultant and educator on the UNESCO Africa Animated projects in Kenya and South Africa, leading teams of artists to collaborate to make animated shorts. She has conducted participant-observer fieldwork in the DRC, Zimbabwe and Kenya on animation and related artistic practices in the Sub-Saharan region resulting in publications on aspects of African animation such as subversive animation and politics in Kenya, remediated documentary through African animation and new technologies and animation in Morocco. She was part of an AHRC Network for Development grant, e-Voices, that was looking at marginalization and the use of digital technologies. She was co-responsible for the sub-theme; Arts, Activism and Marginalization that took place in Nairobi, Kenya and consisted of curating an exhibition, workshops with artists, and focus groups with activists.

Keynote 1: Helen Starr

Chair: Prof Birgitta Hosea

Helen Starr, Founder @ The Mechatronic Library

Helen Starr (TT) is an Afro-Carib curator, producer and cultural activist from Trinidad, WI. She began curating exhibitions with artists such as Susan Hiller, Cindy Sherman and Marcel Duchamp in 1995. Helen founded The Mechatronic Library in 2010, to give marginalised artists access to technologies such as Game Engines, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR). Helen has worked with many public institutions such as Wysing Art Centre, FACT, Liverpool and QUAD in Derby. Being Indigenous-American Helen is interested in how digital artforms transform our understanding of reality by world-building narratives through storytelling and counter-storytelling. How, by “naming one’s own reality” we can experience the Other. Helen is on the board of QUAD, Derby and on the Computer Animation Jury for Ars Electronica, Linz. In 2020 she developed the concept of a Fluid or DAAD Futurism with Amrita Dhallu and Salma Noor.

Panel 2: Animating Ancestors: Postcolonial Approaches to Retelling Indigenous Oral History

The Stories of Our Ancestors:  Retelling tribal tales in the medium of animated film
Dr Tara Douglas, Adivasi Arts Trust, London, United Kingdom

Bio: The Tales of the Tribes (Douglas 2015 [1]) and the Stories of Our Ancestors are projects that explore the presentation of indigenous narratives in the medium of animated film. Indigenous knowledge is remembered and transmitted through the rituals, myths, legends and the folklore of local communities around the world. The spoken recollection is a co-creative process that takes place in the space between the storyteller and listener, in which the layers of story and meaning are to be found, deciphered and interpreted. As the stories have animated the cultural landscape, animation as an art form brings life to that which is static; its audio dimensions, the visual splendour and the imaginative, poetic quality seem to be suited for a modern presentation of ancient cultural stories and world views.   

The lasting impact of colonialism is seen in the continued interpretation of indigenous cultures and identities in India using Western conceptual models. The abiding representation as ‘backward’ people (Dean and Levi 2003[2]; Veerbhadranaika et al[3]. 2012) illustrates the importance of indigenous young people reappraising their cultural heritage. Literature in English is only sometimes accessible to students in the North East region of India and at other peripheries, but animation is seen and enjoyed on mobile technology which reaches even the more distant areas, and competes for the attention of young people.  

In India the creative industries look for projects that are expected to have popular appeal and generate profit, shying away from experimental presentations and marginalized, unknown content. When animation is perceived as juvenile entertainment, it is produced in bulk quantity and it is linked to brand merchandising. The strategies of Disney that are leading the industry tend to produce simplified, universalized narratives that are aimed at making the films more interesting for viewers (Mitra 1999[4]). In contrast, the original tribal stories are open ended and do not offer resolution.  How can animation speak about these narratives, and project the voices of community?  Can the language of animation be appropriated to expose and critique the neocolonial practices of the industry?

Animation can be explored as a tool to engage with the content across cultures, languages and age groups. Can the practice transcend purely academic frameworks and embark on an intellectual challenge to connect more deeply with indigenous ideologies? Through participatory production and co-design in an environment of knowledge exchange with members of the community, the film-makers encourage indigenous voices and perspectives and reduce the reductive strategies of commercial animation.  

Bio: Dr Tara Douglas was born in India. She is a co-founder and Secretary of the Adivasi Arts Trust ( Tara graduated with BA Hons Animation from West Surrey College of Art and Design (UK) in 1993.In 2002 Tara became the coordinator in India for an animation project based on tribal stories produced by West Highland Animation (Scotland): The Tallest Story Competition (2006). She directed and animated one of the short films in the series. In 2007 Tara screened The Tallest Story Competition films to 10,000 children in schools in Central India. Tara completed a Professional Doctorate in Digital Media in 2016 at Bournemouth University (UK) for the practice-led research Tales of the Tribes: Animation as a Tool for Indigenous Representation. She has organised animation and film workshops for indigenous tribal artists and storytellers in Nagaland, Sikkim, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Gujarat. She filmed and directed a documentary film: The Journey of the Tales of the Tribes (2018) which was broadcast in India on Doordarshan 1. She has since done post-doctoral research at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong, Meghalaya (Department of Anthropology), for the project titled The Stories of our Ancestors.

The Representation of Cultural Space and Practice in Animated Documentary on the Theme of Ethnic Minority Oral Literature: Taking ‘Mei Ge – Kai Tian Pi Di’ as an Example

Dr Yijing Wang, Beihang University, Beijing, China

Abstract: The use of animation in creative expression compensates for the limitations of information transmission and promotion in traditional media. Animated documentaries have a unique advantage in presenting facts, interpreting non-literal materials, and sharing cultural experiences. This presentation examines: 1) the unique qualities of ethnic oral literature and the creative ideas of animation, 2) the shaping and representation of cultural space in the animated documentary, and 3) the practical approaches of the Mei Ge – Kai Tian Pi Di. The study aims to display the cultural system of ethnic minorities through animation, transforming ethnic oral literature from an isolated “story” to a lens for interpreting ethnic minority culture and cultural perspectives.

Oral folk literature encompasses a wide range of narratives myths, legends, folktales, chanting ballads, and more. For instance, the Yi oral literature of Mei Ge encompasses the entire history, culture, production, and way of life of the Yi people. The history of the integration of oral stories and animation among ethnic minorities in China will first be briefly explored followed by an analysis the linguistic characteristics of ethnic minority oral literature and the cultural contexts in which oral literature is performed within minority communities. Lastly, this section delves into the creative considerations (such as content composition, discourse, and perspective) behind the animated documentary on ethnic oral literature featured in this study.

Building upon the definition of cultural space, the interconnections of its key components (time, place, people, and cultural activities) will be examined within the context of Mei Ge. Using the author’s animated documentary Mei Ge – Kai Tian Pi Di as a case study, how cultural space among minorities is formed and portrayed will be explored through the creation of animation content framework and visual representation.

The collection and research of ethnic minority oral archives, including oral literature, should be grounded in the local knowledge, internal perspective, and self-narration of cultural holders, rather than external interpretations. The presentation will end with an examination of the cooperation paradigms in anthropological fieldwork methods and other design projects, offering insights into animation practice methods including the collaboration path with community members in the animation process, based on the author’s field investigation experience. This allows the carriers of oral literature (ethnic minority community members) to actively participate, incorporating their perspectives into the animation, and the “personalized” cultural interpretation and screen presentation form can be presented.

Bio: Dr Yijing Wang is an Assistant Professor at Beihang University. She was awarded a PhD in Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London (2020). Her research is using animation as a form of ethnographic documentary, exploring animation’s potential to document the underrepresented cultures of minorities. Her ethnographic animation Longhorn Miao’s Love Songs was selected for the exceptional program of 2022 Society for Visual Anthropology Film and Media Festival held by the American Anthropology Association. She currently teaches animation documentary and related courses on minority’s folk arts, and at the same time conducts research on ethnographic animation and protection of minority intangible cultural heritage.

Panel 3: Decolonising Technology

Using Indigenous Design to Explore Contemporary Ideas in Quantum Mechanics

Mark Chavez (presenting) and Ina Conradi, Media Art Nexus Studios, Singapore, Singapore

Abstract: This paper discusses two case studies created as animated films that use cultural design archetypes to explain aspects of quantum theory. Drawing on the notion of Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation as a metaphor for perceived and imagined reality, the films – Quantum LOGOS (Vision Serpent) and Moirai, Thread of Life – employ abstract animated imagery to represent quantum mechanics basics and string theory using Mesoamerican and Southeast Asian cultural motifs. These case studies focus on two core issues – Young’s Double Slit Experiment and the Observer Effect – relevant to the artwork’s use in explaining quantum phenomena. By using design archetypes inspired by ancient cultural art and philosophy, the films provide visual metaphors that explore the beauty of quantum reality, while highlighting the illusory nature of perceived reality. This research underscores the use of new creative technologies to construct designs that demonstrate similarities between current scientific notions and ancient indigenous thought, emphasizing the blurring of boundaries between reality and representation. Finally, the paper highlights how this research utilizes design inspired by ancient observations of natural wonders to offer fresh insights into quantum theory, revealing the interconnectivity between general relativity and quantum reality.

Bio: Mark Chavez is an artist/animator, educator, and entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in various media, including laser light, broadcast television, video games, and visual effects for fully animated and live-action films, as well as immersive performance animation. He has received numerous awards for his work and has been recognized for his contributions to the field of animation. He has worked on visual effects for various films at companies such as DreamWorks SKG and Rhythm and Hues Studios and in the gaming industry, having worked on PlayStation games at Acclaim Entertainment. In addition to his work in animation, Mark has also made contributions to the field as an educator. He served as the founding faculty for the digital animation program at Nanyang Technological University Singapore’s School of Art, Design & Media, where he has helped numerous students launch successful careers in animation. Mark has received funding from the National Research Foundation/Media Development Authority of Singapore and has received a prestigious National Award from the Singapore Prison’s Yellow Ribbon Project for his work with game software for storytelling with students and inmates.

Using data as materiality
Maybelle Peters,
 PhD Candidate, UCA

This presentation foregrounds motion capture technology, blackness and creative practice.  I study contemporary artists’ racialised black identity and their use of motion capture data.  I explore how new knowledge is produced through an examination of technical processes, subjectivity and world-making practices.  These overlapping and entangled meaning-making activities are analysed at iterative stages simultaneously using case studies to explore lived experiences.  The talk will comprise moving image work produced in response to key texts and their application to a technologically driven practice.  Additionally, a summary of the selected methods will be given.  This account uses a reflexive journal method to recount some of the decisions made during a series of tests.   Following an outline of processes relating to the research objectives, the presentation concludes with three excerpts using motion capture data.  The research considers how an interrogation of subjectivity and self-making produces a particular interest in using digitised captured motion.  Despite the development of virtual production aimed at supplying ready-made avatars, initial research has shown that black artists’ interest in working with motion capture remains largely unaccounted for.  Therefore, this study stages black subjectivity in relation to the digital human movement found in motion capture libraries.  One of the primary aims is to examine whether the use of motion capture data contests or reproduces colonial practices of cultural, dominant hegemonies.  From an initial investigatory series of practices, I outline how my argument that motion capture should be viewed as an extracted resource is connected to constructing racialised bodies.  I expand on this idea further through iterative tests to interrogate the (in)stability of identity as visually represented.  The research output is used to raise questions on how black artists navigate both imposed and self-defined notions of blackness.  The presentation focuses on my engagement with motion capture data.  By using computational information as a resource, I discuss how an exploration of movement is informed by adopting a politics of black navigational strategy.  This positioning aligns with scholar Katherine McKittrick’s assertion that “black lives are necessarily geographic but also struggle with discourses that erase and despatialise their sense of place” (McKittrick, 2006, p. xiii).  I outline how moving image as place-making probes a set of research questions.  The presentation centres on my use of existing motion capture data.  I explain how motion capture libraries are studied while making work.  The research aims to determine if the examination of movement contests or reifies ideas of racialised black bodies.  Recognising that descriptors such as Human are contested categories connected to colonial domination, the research presented will acknowledge this central theme and its connection to the study’s objectives.  

Bio: Maybelle Peters is a visual artist working with film, video and computer-generated images. Her practice explores the movement of Black bodies in time and space using an archive of ephemera, gestures and sounds. She gained her bachelor’s degree in Animation at Farnham where she made her first commissioned film for BBC2. Her Channel 4 commissioned film, Mama Lou, has been shown extensively at animation festivals including Annecy, Ottawa and the Edinburgh Film Festival. Her work was shown as part of ‘The Place is Here’ exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary, and South London Gallery in 2017. She is the recipient of the inaugural Womxn of Colour art award 2020. Her recent work includes installations at Primary, Nottingham 2022 and Alchemy Film and Video Festival 2023. Maybelle is a practice-based PhD candidate at UCA Farnham. Her research area includes contemporary artists’ use of motion capture technology and anti-extractivist practices.

Keynote 2: Dr Liliana Conlisk-Gallegos

Liliana Conlisk-Gallegos aka. Dr. Machete or Mystic Machete is from the Tijuana-San Diego border region in Southern California. With the goal of advancing the certain decolonial turn, her live, interactive media art production and border rasquache new media art pieces and performances generate culturally specific, collective, technocultural creative spaces of production that reconnect Chicana/o/x “Mestiza” Indigenous wisdom/conocimiento to their ongoing technological and scientific contributions, still “overlooked” through the logic of the decaying Eurocentric project of Modernity. In her Tijuana-San Ysidro transfronteriza (perpetual border crosser) perspective, the current limited perceptions of what research, media, and technology can be are like a yonke (junkyard), from which pieces are upcycled and repurposed to amplify individual and collective expression, community healing, and social justice. She has organized and curated over 14 community-centered, interactive, decolonial, community building, and environmentalist, research-based multimedia artivism and critical intervention performances and her work has been exhibited at ACM|SIGGRAPH, The García Center for the Arts in San Bernardino, Human Resources Art Museum in Los Angeles, the PAMLA Arts Matter of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association, and the Guizhou Provincial Museum in China. Her most recent curation was The Future Past v. Coloniality: Decolonial Media Art Beyond 530 Years, supported by the Digital Arts Community for ACM SIGGRAPH (

She is Associate Professor of Decolonial Media and Communication Studies at CSU San Bernardino and a member of the ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Committee. Her writings have appeared in Critical Storytelling from Global Borderlands: En la línea, Vol. 8, 2022 (Brill Publishers), Re-Activating Critical Thinking amidst Necropolitical Realities: Politics, Theory, Arts and Political Economy for a Radical Change, 2022 (Cambridge Scholars Publishing), A Love Letter to This Bridge Called My Back, 2022 (The University of Arizona Press), Departures in Critical Qualitative Research 3 Vol. 10, 2021 (UC Press), and Journal of Latinos in Education Vol. 20, 2018 (Taylor and Francis).

Event Website:


AniDox:LAB call for applications

Applications are now open – Deadline 03 March 2023
ANIDOX:LAB is a tailor-made professional training course – for documentary and animation creatives, directors, producers and professionals with an animated documentary project in development.

The Lab is based in Denmark, Viborg and Copenhagen, and is supported by the Danish film Institute and the Animation Workshop.

They offer a series of seminars and consultation sessions running between May and August 2023. For in-depth guidance and a supportive framework. Expand participant’s international network and engage in new collaborations.

The ANIDOX:LAB uniquely addresses visual and immersive animation storytelling. The goal is to pitch a teaser/trailer and build knowledge, network and resources. We focus on collaborative processes, matchmaking, reaching audiences and new frameworks. The coaching seminars and creative workshops are designed to progress from fine- tuning an initial idea, through visual and narrative development, to a pitch package and a teaser/trailer.

It is a laboratory which brings professionals together to maximize their capacity and cultivate new skills, while developing their respective projects. Teams are encouraged to apply as well as artists working in cross-media, hybrid forms and new technologies.

Select participating ANIDOX:LAB projects have the opportunity to showcase their work at various prestigious international events and festivals.

for more information and to apply visit

Launching a new podcast…

Here at we are trying out a new podcast format as part of our mission to offer information, promotion, and critical discussion around the animated documentary form. We’re planning to release an occasional podcast featuring discussion on animated documentary with filmmakers, academics, programmers, commissioners, and commentators.

In this first episode, team members Alys Scott-Hawkins, Carla MacKinnon and Alex Widdowson discuss Chris Landreth’s seminal short animated documentary Ryan (2004), as well as Laurence Green’s film Alter Egos, a live-action making-of documentary released the same year, which tracks Landreth’s filmmaking process and exposes problematic elements in his approach.

Ryan and Alter Egos AnimatedDocumentary

Animators Alys Scott-Hawkins, Carla MacKinnon, and Alex Widdowson discuss their thoughts on Chris Landreth's seminal short animated documentary Ryan (2004) and Laurence Green's film Alter Egos, a live-action making-of documentary released the same year, which tracks Landreth's filmmaking process and exposes problematic elements in his approach.  Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

Both Ryan and Alter Egos are free to watch online at the links below.


Alter Egos:

ANIDOX:LAB 2022 Call-for-applications

Our friends at the Animation Workshop, Denmark, have a new call-for-applications for ANIDOX:LAB ’22

Application Deadline 20.04.22

ANIDOX:LAB is a tailor-made professional training course – for documentary and animation creatives, directors, producers and professionals with an animated documentary project in development.

We offer a series of seminars and consultation sessions running between June and September 2022. For in-depth guidance and a supportive framework. Expand your international network and engage in new collaborations!

The ANIDOX:LAB uniquely addresses visual and immersive animation storytelling. The goal is to pitch a teaser/trailer and build knowledge, network and resources. We focus on collaborative processes, matchmaking, reaching audiences and new ways of working.

The coaching seminars and creative workshops are designed to progress from fine- tuning an initial idea, through visual and narrative development, to a pitch package and a teaser/trailer.

It is a laboratory which brings professionals together to maximize their capacity and cultivate new skills, while developing their respective projects. Teams are encouraged to apply as well as artists working in cross-media, hybrid forms and new technologies.

Select participating ANIDOX:LAB projects have the opportunity to showcase their work at various prestigious international events and festivals.


ANIDOX:LAB is a part of The Animation Workshop / VIA University College’s professional training programme. With support from Creative Europe MEDIA and in partnership with the Danish Film Institute, The Swedish Film institute, Viken Filmsenter, CPH:DOX, Nordisk Panorama and Documentary Campus.

Michelle Kranot
The Animation Workshop
VIA University college
Kasernevej 5, 8800-DK

Panel discussion: Autobiography

We’re super-excited to share details of our upcoming panel discussion with three film-makers working with autobiography, in partnership with Animate Projects and British Council:

Our next Animation Salon is programmed by Alys Scott-Hawkins and Ellie Land from Animated Documentary, is on 4 November. It’s our second in partnership with Animate Projects. The animated documentary genre continues to grow, featuring in a variety of formats: shorts and feature films, explainer videos, interactive documentary; and showcasing an array of techniques such as the autoethnographic film, the investigative film, the call-to-action and reconstruction films, to name just a few. Animators Mary Martins (UK), John Summerson (USA), and Signe Baumane (Latvia/USA) will share their insights and experiences with us, alongside some clips of their work.

Animation Salon/Accelerate Sessions
Animated Documentary
18:00 (UK time), Wednesday 4 November
More information here.
Free. Register here.
Spaces are limited – please join early to make sure you get in. Supported by Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund.
Still: My Love Affair With Marriage, Signe Baumane, 2021

Next Accelerate session coming up…

12 November
Animation and VR
With Tom Higham (York Mediale), Liz Rosenthal (Venice Film Festival), Juergen Hagler (Ars Electronica), Helen Starr (Mechatronic Library), and Ulrich Schrauth (London Film Festival Expanded).  More details soon. 

A day at Deptford Animadocs


Deptford Cinema

The Deptford Animadocs symposium took place on a warm July day in Deptford Cinema, London. A converted shop edging the bustle of Deptford Market, the venue, which is run entirely by volunteers, is plastered with cult film imagery and local information, combining the laser focus of film obsessives with the inclusivity of a community space. The event attracted an audience  including animated documentary die-hards as well as newcomers to the form and there was a buzz throughout the day as filmmakers, academics and audience members compared thoughts and ideas.

The day included three programmes of short films. Each had a theme. The first, ‘Borders’, was a harrowing collection of stories of migration, protest, and imprisonment. From the near-invisible modern-day slavery of some domestic workers in Leeds Animation Workshop’s They Call Us Maids to the brutal detention of migrants in Lukas Schrank’s Nowhere Lines: Broken Dreams from Manus Island, the films told urgent stories with a strong social message.


Nowhere Lines: Broken Dreams from Manus Island Dir. Lukas Schrank (UK/ Australia)

The second programme, themed as ‘Memories’, was a more upbeat and varied screening, lifted by the humour of Dustin Grella’s Animation Hotline and the lateral charm of Carina and Ines Christine Geisser’s Durrenwaid 8. The programme also featured dark moments, notably Susan Young’s visceral The Betrayal, a film in which she explores a traumatic period from her past in which she was put in the care of a manipulative and destructive mental health professional.

Following this was a screening of the feature animated documentary Another Planet (dir. Amir Yatziv). The film follows the creators of various virtual simulations of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. These worlds have been created by very different people, each with very different motivations: police forensics, game development, museum exhibit modelling. In the film we see the creators of each simulated camp as avatars exploring their own virtual Auschwitz.

This was one of those films that is very difficult to describe or explain, or even to make sense of your feelings about during or after watching it. It’s strange, chilling, depressing, reflective, and at times blackly funny. It asks smart questions not only about its subject but also about the documentary form, leaving the audience unsettled and unmoored, unsure of whose voice we have been listening to.

The final short film programme of the day, ‘Body and Mind’, saw filmmakers looking inwards and making films that dealt with physical and mental illness, and emotional highs and lows. Kate Ranmey’s Lingua Absentia was a powerful story about a young woman with schizophrenia and cancer, told through the eyes of her mother, while Lizzy Hobbs’s BAFTA-nominated I’m OK was a wonderfully fluid, rich and satisfying way to wrap up the screening.


I’m OK Dir. Elizabeth Hobbs (UK)

The day concluded with a roundtable discussion, with: myself; Susan Young; Terry Wragg and Jo Dunn from the Leeds Animation Workshop; Dr Victoria Grace Walden, who had organised and programmed the bulk of the day; and Dr Bella Honess Roe, who has written widely on animated documentary and who helped programme the event. It was a lively, discursive panel with a very active audience. Earlier in the day both Honess Roe and Walden had made presentations and led discussions, laying strong groundwork for more in-depth debate at the end of the day. It was particularly interesting to hear Young talk about her process of making The Betrayal, which she produced following a period of poor mental health, building a script from fragments of her real medical and legal records:

I had gone through this experience of being someone who had a voice, an animation director, et cetera, and then ending up with a mental health label and suddenly becoming voiceless. And that was totally shocking. So I wanted to explore that, to actually explore what it meant to me, how it felt to be voiceless. Which is why I used the medical records, to subvert them and take control of that narrative.

Most of the words in the film are seen as flashes of typed text, shot so close-up that the texture of paper and ink is visible, illuminated by sudden flashes of light. The doctor’s words are embodied in a disturbing voiceover, voiced by Young herself in audio that was then processed heavily to create a dark simulation of a man’s voice. This literal using of her own voice exemplifies Young’s intention:

it was really, really important to find my own voice again through playing with the voice of this individual who I’d created through his medical records he wrote about me, and also legal records.

It was also good to hear Wragg and Dunn talk about their work with Leeds Animation Workshop and how it has changed over the years. Particularly interesting was Wragg’s opinion that it is harder now to find ways to get a film seen in a good environment with the opportunity for discussion than it used to be. She explains that:

a lot of our films are quite dense and intensively researched and designed to provoke specific questions. They really work best if they’re in a group where people are around to talk about things, and sometimes that’s not as easy as it used to be.

More positively, the panel discussed animated documentary as a space where alternative and diverse stories and storytellers can flourish. Walden commented on how encouraged she was not only by the quantity and quality of submissions that Deptford Animadocs received, but also the diversity of the filmmakers and the stories represented.

Walden also talked about the way that the documentary value of animated documentary is problematised by the subjectivity of the form, the intent that is inherent in animation. While all filmmaking involves construction and decision-making on the part of the filmmaker, there remains a sense that animation is more constructed and therefore less trustworthy than live action. Walden and Honess Roe discussed the fact that while animated documentary is generally considered to be good at representing subjective, internal experiences, these representations are usually mediated by the animator or director, rather than emerging purely from the subject (Samantha Moore’s work within the collaborative frame is an example of a filmmaker addressing this limitation).

This Animadocs festival, or symposium, or ‘sympestival’ as Walden calls it, was a rich day for fans of animated and alternative documentary. The programme of films was very strong, favouring high-intensity work packing an emotional gut-punch over information-heavy or highly illustrative films. This made the viewing demanding as well as rewarding, but the frequent breaks, presentations and discussions that peppered the day provided relief and variety, as well as seeds of thought and collaboration that will no doubt grow beyond the event itself.

To keep up to date with the future work of Deptford Animadocs, join their facebook group here.


Deptford AnimaDocs

On July 13th Deptford Cinema in London will be hosting a day of film and discussion exploring and celebrating Twenty-First Century animated documentary. The event includes:

  • An international programme of 16 animated documentary films

  • Introductions by academics working in animation studies

  • Roundtable discussion with filmmakers and scholars

  • Drinks reception

Speakers include: Dr Victoria Grace Walden (University of Sussex), Dr Bella Honess Roe (University of Surrey), Dr Nea Ehrlich (Ben-Gurion University, Israel TBC), Susan Young (Royal College of Arts), Carla MacKinnon (Arts University Bournemouth), Terry Wragg (Leeds Animation Workshop).

Doors 11.30am / Tickets: £10 (£8.50 concessions)

More information on the website:




Migraine MyGroan MyGain (Dir. John Akre)


The Betrayal (Dir. Susan Young)


I’m OK (Dir. Elizabeth Hobbs)


O Hunter Heart (dir. Carla MacKinnon)

‘Doozy’ by Richard Squires, UK Cinema Tour

‘Doozy is a creative documentary that mixes original animation, re-enactment, archive and expert testimony to look through the lens of one of Hollywood’s hidden queer histories’

Another chance to see the fantastic ‘Doozy’ and a brilliant lineup of Q&A’s, featuring the cast of Doozy.

23 April 2019   Fabrica, Brighton  Q&A with Jamie Wyld                

25 April 2019   Close-Up Centre, London  Guest Dr Sophie Scott   

30 April 2019   Exeter Phoenix  Q&A with Dr Benedict Morrison

4 May 2019   Flatpack Festival, Birmingham  Q&A with José Arroyo

7 May 2019   University of Warwick  Q&A with Dr Julie Lobalzo Wright

9 May 2019   Phoenix, Leicester  Guest Professor Paul Wells

10 May 2019   Birkbeck Cinema, London  Guest John Airlie

You can read our review of Doozy here


A view of Ecstatic Truth 2017

The 2017 Ecstatic Truth Symposium took place on May 27 and explored the field of animated documentary. Presentations by scholars and practitioners from around the world covered topics including memory, trauma, visual and verbal language, industry structure and new technologies.

The day kicked off with a keynote by Bella Honess Roe, who expanded on the idea of ‘absence and excess’ that she put forward in her monograph Animated Documentary. Using the examples of two short films – Abuelas and Irinka and Sandrinka – Honess Roe demonstrated that animation can be used both as metaphorical wish fulfilment and as an exploration of memory, both memories of events directly experienced and memories passed down through families and cultures. Honess Roe spoke about how animation studies academics strive to pin down animation in theoretical terms, but find that definitive conclusions are elusive. She suggested that this is due to the vastness of animation as a discipline: “Very few animated documentaries look alike”. Perhaps this resistance to reductive conclusions is one of animation’s strengths.

In her presentation “Traversing the terrain of space, time and form”, Rose Bond gave an insight into her research and production process when making large scale architectural animations. Her work interprets the histories of buildings into narratives and symbolic motifs that are then projected back onto the windows of the building itself. Her storyboarding process was particularly interesting to see, as she boarded the different narratives that played out across the different windows – a more lateral process than traditional storyboarding. She referred to this “multiscreen” boarding as “a different kind of editing, composing”. The process of storyboarding was the moment of ‘parataxis’, the juxtaposing of individual visual and narrative elements together to create new meaning for those elements. Bond explained that in her work it is important that the audience do not see all the material when they watch – they are required to chose which images to focus on throughout, so the experience is different with each viewing.

Broadsided! (Exeter, UK) from Rose Bond on Vimeo.

Next up I presented a paper about animated documentary and virtual reality, proposing that the absence and excess (Honess Roe, 2013) of animated documentary is complemented by the dual qualities of immersion and alienation present in VR. I supported my argument with the analysis of two recent animated VR documentaries – Nonny de la Peña’s Out of Exile and Michelle and Uri Kranot’s Nothing Happens.

Vincenzo Maselli’s presentation on “Deeper strata of meanings in stop-motion animation: the meta-diegetic performance of matter” explored ideas of performance and materiality of stop-motion, referencing the work of Marks, Sobchack and Barker in an analysis of the relationship between the human body and the texture of filmed material.

Sally Pearce’s paper entitled “Can I draw my own memory?” focused on her work tracking memory, and the problems presented by this. She showed a piece of work in which an animated horse wanders through bleak live action landscapes that represent her fractured memories from a time of serious illness. This record of illness is, she explains, “straight from the horse’s mouth”. She discussed her process of trying to capture and visualise memory, and the frustrations that come with this: “I try to use my pencil as a scalpel to extract a memory whole, but the memory will not be drawn out like a lump of tissue, instead it changes as soon as the pencil touches it. As my memory changes under the pencil, I am changed, I redraw myself.” Pearce particularly noted that her drawings can feel trapped in the language we commonly use about memory and illness and bound up in accepted metaphor, frustrated that “my drawing mind remains locked into the forms of the spoken and written word”.

Barnaby Dicker’s paper “A Quivering Terminus: Walerian Borowczyk’s Games of Angels, animated documentary and the social fantastic” analyses how Borowczyk uses ‘fantastic topography’ to play with tropes of both documentary and fiction, in order to a explore disturbing historical subject. Dicker’s analysis of Borowczyk’s disturbing and powerful short looked at how both imagery and structure worked to create meaning for the audience.


He commented on the clues the filmmaker’s uses to guide the audience, such as the inclusion of a title card providing assurance that characters and events portrayed in the film are not intended to resemble characters living and dead. Dicker noted that the film is highly abstract and would not in any way invite an assumption that it was portraying real characters – so in fact the title card may be working inversely, to suggest to an audience that what they are watching does, in fact, reflect reality.

The afternoon sessions included a talk from Chinese artist Lei Lei who offered a lively tour of the process behind his compelling and visually stunning artwork. LeiLei uses found materials and processes of enhancing and degrading images to interrogate history, memory and culture.

Recycled from RAY on Vimeo.

Guli Silberstein’s presentation of his work “The Schizophrenic State Project“, gave an insight into the personal context which led him to appropriate and adapt media footage of violence to specifically explore conflict in Israel, Palestine and the region. The presentation offered an intimate view of an artist striving to find a voice to communicate his complex relationship with a disturbing subject matter which is both deeply personal and boldly political. In processing and re-presenting footage of war and protest Silberstein recontextualises it, challenging a viewer to watch and consider it in a new way.

Becky James’ paper “Expanding the Index in Animated Documentary” considered the subgenre of animation about mental states through a close reading of Betina Kuntzsch’s Spirit Away. James also offered insights into the culture around animated documentary production in comparison to the fine art industry where she previously worked, suggesting that there is an absence of critique and serious professional support for emerging filmmakers through canonical institutions in the field of experimental animation.

Susan Young’s presentation “Bearing Witness: Autoethnographic Animation and the Metabolism of Trauma” showcased her PhD research on psychological trauma, in which she reflects on her own experience. Young showed her visceral short film The Betrayal and discussed her process, sharing the ways in which she managed the risks associated with conducting any research on trauma.

The Betrayal (Trailer) from Susan Young on Vimeo.

The 2016 Ecstatic Truth symposium had concluded with a sense of agreement that the arguments around the legitimacy of animation as a documentary form which have dominated much of animated documentary scholarship have reached the limits of their usefulness, and that we can progress better if we start from a working assumption that animated documentary can exist as a valid form. The 2017 event followed on from this, taking a broad perspective on animated documentary that allowed for an open, discursive atmosphere in which diverse ideas could be raised, considered and challenged. There were no definitive answers but, as Honess Roe suggested at the beginning of the day, maybe animation’s ability to elude the finality of concrete definition is at the heart of its charm.

Ecstatic Truth II: ‘Lessons of Darkness and Light’ 27th May 2017 Symposium at the Royal College of Art

The second Ecstatic Truth symposium was held at the Royal College of Art, London, on the 27th May 2017. This postgraduate research event was organised by Animation Research Co-ordinator Dr Tereza Stehlikova, working closely with the Animation MA programme leader, Dr Birgitta Hosea. It takes place a year after the launch of the RCA’s MA Documentary Animation pathway. The event was introduced by Professor Teal TriggsAssociate Dean of the School of Communication.

This article is composed of summaries of the speakers and their papers, taken from the symposium programme, illustrated by Alex Widdowson.


Bella Honess Roe is is a film scholar who specialises in documentary and animation. Her 2013 monograph Animated Documentary is the first text to investigate the convergence of these two media forms and was the recipient of the Society for Animation Studies’ 2015 McLaren-Lambart award for best book. She also publishes on animation and documentary more broadly and is currently editing a book on Aardman Animations (I.B. Tauris), co-editing a volume on the voice in documentary (Bloomsbury) and co-editing the Animation Studies Handbook (Bloomsbury). She is Senior Lecturer and Programme Director for Film Studies at the University of Surrey.


Traversing the terrain of space, time and form

Rose Bond “Broadsided”

Must documentary be confined to a single screen?  How does the siting of a screening influence its perception?  This screening/talk focuses on documentary strategies in Rose Bond’s multi-screen animated installation Broadsided! which was sited in the windows of the Exeter Castle.  A screened excerpt from Broadsided! documentation provides the basis for brief examination of documentary methods used to convey a point of view: research, reenactment, data visualization and parataxis.

Rose Bond creates monumental, content driven animated installations. Rear projected in multiple windows, her themes are often drawn from the site – existing as monuments to the unremembered. Her installations have illuminated urban spaces in Zagreb, Toronto, Exeter UK, New York City, Utrecht, Netherlands and Portland, Oregon.

Carla MacKinnon “Immersion and alienation: animated virtual realities”

This presentation will explore how animated documentaries are pioneering creativity in virtual reality (VR). I will propose that animated documentary is a good fit for VR technically and creatively, and that the distancing quality and ‘absence and excess’ (Honess Roe, 2013) of animated documentary complements the dual sensation of immersion and alienation evoked in the dreamlike experience of VR.

Carla MacKinnon is a filmmaker and practice-based PhD candidate at Arts University Bournemouth, whose moving image work has been exhibited widely. Carla has a Masters in Animation from Royal College of Art and has worked as a festival producer and manager of technology projects. She is also director of interdisciplinary events organisation Rich Pickings.


Deeper strata

Vincenzo Maselli: “Deeper strata of meanings in stop-motion animation: the meta-diegetic performance of matter”

Can puppets’ skin materials express deeper levels of signification in stop-motion animation cinema? The paper suggests the concept of autonomous performance of matter in stop-motion animation and aim to demonstrate that matter can express a sense of tactility and metaphorically act autonomously from the diegetic narrative, staging a second level of narrative (meta-diegetic).

Vincenzo Maselli is a PhD student in design at Sapienza University of Rome. His research aims to demonstrate how materials and puppets’ building techniques can communicate narrative meanings in stop motion animation cinema. In October 2016 he moved in London, where he is continuing his research at Middlesex University.

Sally Pearce “Can I draw my own memory?” A visual essay

I try to use my pencil as a scalpel to extract a memory whole, but the memory will not be drawn out like a lump of tissue, instead it changes as soon as the pencil touches it. As my memory changes under the pencil, I am changed, I redraw myself.

Sally Pearce studied philosophy at Cambridge, then became a nurse. She started making films while studying Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam, followed by an MA in Animation Direction at the NFTS. Her films have screened and been awarded at Festivals around the world. She hopes to start her PhD in October 2017.

Barnaby Dicker “A Quivering Terminus: Walerian Borowczyk’s Games of Angels, animated documentary and the social fantastic.”

This paper explores how Borowczyk’s Games of Angels (1964) utilises a fantastic topography to play with tropes of documentary and fiction in an effort to engage with painful social history in a direct, but far from literal way; its design and structure conveying, through a disturbing momentum, the experience of a quivering terminus.

Dr Barnaby Dicker teaches at Cardiff School of Art and Design. His research revolves around conceptual and material innovations in and through graphic technologies and arts.

Panel discussion chaired by Birgitta Hosea



Lei Lei

Lei Lei always pay particular attention to collecting and collating historical texts and images during his experiment animated works and try to search for elements of the poetic and dramatic between reality and fiction. In Hand colored No.2, through the use of manual painting, Lei Lei and Thomas Sauvin try to connect black and white images of different people, attempting to construct a fictional character, narrating his personal history.

LeiLei 雷磊 Artist / Filmmaker 1985 Born in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, is an experimental animation artist with his hands on video arts, painting, installation, music and VJ performance also. In 2009 he got a master’s degree in animation from Tsinghua University. In 2010, his film < This is LOVE> was shown at Ottawa International Animation Festival and awarded The 2010 Best Narrative Short. In 2013 his film <Recycled> was selected by Annecy festival and was the Winner Grand Prix shorts – non-narrative at Holland International Animation Film Festival. In 2014 was on the Jury of Zagreb / Holland International Animation Film Festival and he was the winner of 2014 Asian cultural council grant.


Animation: Lessons of Darkness and Light

Guli Silberstein: ‘The Schizophrenic State Project’

The Schizophrenic State Project, which started in 2000, contains a series of videos that appropriate mass media footage of violence, war, and protest, in the context of Israel, Palestine and the region. The images are processed via digital means in diverse ways, creating poetic works that formulate news media critique.

Guli Silberstein is an Artist and video editor, based in London UK since 2010, born in Israel (1969). In 2000 he received his MA in Media Studies from The New School NYC, and since 2001, he creates work shown and winning awards in festivals and art venues in the UK and worldwide.

Becky James: “Expanding the Index in Animated Documentary”

Documentary animation examining mental state is a robust subgenre; often these works try to recreate an unusual psychological state to promote empathy and understanding. Using patient records and contemporaneous film strips, Betina Kuntzsch’s 2016 animation Spirit Away avoids speaking for, explaining, or diagnosing the female patients at the Heidelberg Psychiatric Clinic. Kuntzsch does not use the index to provide truth claim or to promote understanding, but instead the index acts as metaphor and distancing mechanism in this work about isolation.

Becky James explores the intersection of the individual and social through animation. She has exhibited in galleries throughout the US and at film festivals including SXSW, Jihlava Documentary Festival, Filmfest Oldenburg, and IFF Rotterdam. A native New Yorker, James graduated from Harvard and received her MFA from Bard. She currently teaches at Parsons School of Design.

Susan Young: Bearing Witness: Autoethnographic Animation and the Metabolism of Trauma”

This presentation and short film screening examines my use of autoethnographic animation methodologies (which include myself as an experimental case study), in order to excavate and bear witness to the memories and lived experience of psychological trauma, and to challenge their related, often stigmatising and ‘othering’, psychiatric diagnoses.

Susan Young is an animation director who has worked principally in advertising, commissioned films and music promos. Her current RCA research is based on personal experience of psychological trauma, and includes a series of short experimental films that explore how animation might ameliorate trauma sympt oms.

Concluding panel discussion, chaired by Barnaby Dicker

This event is supported by the Society of Animation Studies, an international organisation dedicated to the study of animation history and theory since 1987. For more information:

For more information about studying MA Animation: Documentary: 

Video documentation of this event will be archived on our Vimeo channel at: