Database for Animation Studies


The Mastery Machine: Digital Animation and Fantasies of Control

For decades, the notion of the creator’s absolute control over the drawn image has remained a staple of animation discourse, and the advent of computer animation has recently reinvigorated this discussion. The animated science fiction features Metropia (Tarik Saleh, 2009), Metropolis (Rintaro, 2001), and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (Hironobu Sakaguchi and Motonori Sakakibara, 2001) engage utopian daydreams and articulate anxieties about the high degree of artistic mastery facilitated by advanced technology. Using these three films as case studies, this text examines computer-animated futuristic urban spaces as architectures of control. It discusses digital bodies as products of animators’ increased mastery over mimetic representations of the human form and explores the ways in which computer animation foregrounds its technological and artistic control over the image as a feat to marvel at. In doing so, this analysis highlights the evolution of the dream of the omnipotent creator into a fantasy of omnipotent machinery, while also foregrounding concerns about the possible danger of technology undermining animators’ labor and making it obsolete in the context of contemporary production practices.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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