Database for Animation Studies


Puppets in a Vignette: Edwin S. Porter's Animation Work

Teddy Bears (1907), made by Edwin S. Porter, who is regarded as the father of narrative cinema, includes one shot made by stop-motion technique. In this scene Teddy Bears perform acrobatics and it can be seen as an example of early cinema that induces a pure visual pleasure, in Tom Gunnin's word, "the cinema of attraction". What causes "attraction"? (1) halt or slackness of narrative flow, (2) "vignette masks" superimposed on a screen, in other words, "keyhole" effect, (3) aesthetic function of stop-motion animation intertwining and intergrating with these two elements: creatures=pupppets, in a "figurative space" enclosed by a vignette of grain pattern, create "figurative time" that is inconsistent to narrative flow, which was made reductively by a stop-motion technique generating movement by piling up frozen moments. This visual representation produced by these multi-formative structure"figurative" structure, in other words, expressive functionality of "tableau" that defines "the cinema of attraction", crystallizes "Porter's position of ambiguity in the history of cinema in a radical and clearly perceptible shape.

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Puppets in a Vignette: Edwin S. Porter's Animation Work
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