Database for Animation Studies


Magic Lantern, Dark Precursor of Animation

This article works through a contrast between the magic lantern and movie projector, focusing on Meiji Japan (1868—1912) as a pivotal site in order to address the relation between cinema and animation, historically and ontologically. Using Simondon’s notion of technical objects to transform Foucault’s notion of dispositif into a theory of technical paradigms, the author finds that the difference between cinema and animation is not primarily one of materials but of qualities of movement. An exploration of the projection-image (utsushie) of the magic lantern suggests that cinema and animation share a technical paradigm, linked to electromagnetism, one that is shadowed by Cartesian technism. Modifying Deleuze’s emphasis on any-instant-whatever and on time as the virtual of the cinematic movement-image, this study finds that cinema and animation share a dark precursor, any-matter-whatever. Because animation stays close to any-matter-whatever, it offers a direct experience of life-in-matter, and anticipates the any-medium-whatever of the digital.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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