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“I’m not a real boy, I’m a puppet”: Computer-Animated Films and Anthropomorphic Subjectivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-262
Number of pages17
JournalAnimation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Volume11
Issue number3
Early online date24 Oct 2016
DOIs
E-pub ahead of print24 Oct 2016
Published1 Nov 2016

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King's Authors

Abstract

This article rethinks anthropomorphic representation and animated animality within the context of the contemporary digital era and, more precisely, against the rise of the computer-animated feature film. By interrogating the fractured identity of the anthropomorph as a necessarily hybrid figuration, it suggests how popular computer-animated films have rejected ánthrōpos and instead exploited the non-human morphē element to manipulate virtual space through anthropomorphic subjectivity. The anthropomorph is here refined into a more prescriptive and functional agent, absorbing the audience into a spectatorial game that sharpens their awareness of the digital realm. Films such as Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007) and Bee Movie (Simon J. Smith & Steve Hickner, 2007) are offered as case studies that reflect the shift towards the form or morphē element, one that is registered through a particular mode of subjectivied address. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze’s notion of ‘gaseous perception’ to elucidate this delivery of enlivened space, this article argues that the computer-animated film is implicated in a hierarchical switch away from humanlike behaviour to embrace the possibilities of the anthropomorph’s non-human morphē identity, thereby upturning the received narrative of how anthropomorphism has been conceptualised among critical studies of animation.

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