Animated Experientia
: Aesthetics of Contemporary Experimental Animation

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Since the early 20th century, artists have explored the seemingly endless potential inherent in the complex blend of visual art and cinema that is experimental animation. Contemporary artists make use of both traditional and modern techniques to produce works of animated visual art that subvert conventional viewing practices and the normal perception of moving images. Despite an increased output of scholarly studies of animation and avant-garde media over the last twenty years, contemporary works of experimental animation rarely receive the kind of close, in-depth analysis that their formal and conceptual intricacies demand. This research draws from various
philosophies of experience (e.g. existential phenomenology, cognitive and gestalt psychology, and empiricist philosophies of science and epistemology) to examine the unconventional aesthetic experiences offered by a diverse range of works by contemporary North American and British artists. These selected artists’ works are materially, formally, and aesthetically heterogeneous, and each of this dissertation’s four chapters explores the particularities of several artists’ works in relation to a common philosophical area of enquiry. Each chapter establishes a wider historical and theoretical context for the selected artists’ works before pursuing a more philosophically focused analysis of individual works. A phenomenological approach to the aesthetics of abstract animation is developed in relation to the works of Steven Woloshen and Bret
Battey; works by Frank Mouris, Katy Shepherd and Jeff Scher are investigated
regarding issues of personal memory and selfhood; epistemic aestheticism is examined in Stuart Hilton’s and Semiconductor’s nonfiction works; and a hermeneutics and allegoresis of oblique narrative is elaborated for Lewis Klahr’s and Kelly Sears’s collage animations. Rather than attempting to fit these artworks within a broader ontological theory of experimental animation, this dissertation engages in a discussionof spectatorship that investigates the complex and challenging experiences individual artworks invite spectators to actively participate in.
Date of Award2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorMichele Pierson (Supervisor) & Richard Dyer (Supervisor)

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