Database for Animation Studies


Animating the City: Street Art, Blu and the Poetics of Visual Encounter

Street artist Blu creates remarkable wall-painted animations, in which he depicts cartoon figures cavorting along, around and through actual urban surfaces. Through this activity, his film Muto (2008) pictures a fraught relationship between urban space and its dwellers. In some way, the film seems to epitomize contemporary thinking about urban space. Emphasizing the primarily visual and spectacular character of the modern city, such thinking casts it as a space where a totalizing gaze elides the embodied experience of the individual. Yet, in Muto, Blu deploys this visual aspect to conceive of the metropolis as a complex ballet of individual choreographies. Envisioning the city as paradox, Muto casts urban space as both highly spectacular and embodied multiplicity. As a work of animation, Muto also encodes this contradiction formally; even as it depicts the city as a capitalistic sphere of exhaustion, it imbues its morphing bodies with the capacity to redefine place. Connecting the shapeshifting bodies of its beings, the bodies of its spectators and the body of the artist, Muto invests urban space with a sense of plurality. Incarnating urban movement as inscription, and urban inscription as movement, his artistic practice recognizes how bodies shape the spaces in which they dwell.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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