Database for Animation Studies


Calligraphic Animation: Documenting the Invisible

Calligraphic animation shifts the locus of documentation from representation to performance, from index to moving trace. Animation is an ideal playing field for the transformative and performative qualities that Arabic writing, especially in the context of Islamic art, has explored for centuries. In Islamic traditions, writing sometimes appears as a document or a manifestation of the invisible. Philosophical and theological implications of text and writing in various Islamic traditions, including mystic sciences of letters, the concept of latency associated with Shi a thought, and the performative or talismanic quality of writing, come to inform contemporary artworks. A historical detour shows that Arabic animation arose not directly from Islamic art but from Western-style art education and the privileging of text in Western modern art - which itself was inspired by Islamic art. A number of artists from the Muslim and Arab world, such as Mounir Fatmi (Morocco/France), Kutlug Ataman (Turkey), and Paula Abood (Australia) bring writing across the boundary from religious to secular conceptions of the invisible. Moreover, the rich Arabic and Islamic tradition of text-based art is relevant for all who practice and study text-based animation.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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