Animated images and animated objects in the Toy Story franchise: Reflexively and intertextually transgressive mimesis
AbstractThis article explores how animation can manipulate a reflexive intertextual framework which relates to religious prohibitions on artistic mimesis that might replicate and threaten God’s creative act. Animated films are most intertextually reflexive, in these terms, when they narrativize the movement of diegetic objects from another medium which also transgresses God’s prohibition: sculpture. In the media of both sculpture and animation, the act of mimesis is transgressive in fundamentally ontological terms, staging the illusion of creation by either replicating the form of living creatures in three-dimensional sculpture, or by giving the impression of animating the inanimate in two-dimensional film. Both media can generate artworks that directly comment on these processes by using narratives about the creative act which not only produce the illusion of life, but which produce diegetically real life itself. Such artworks are intensely reflexive, and engage with one another in an intertextual manner. The article traces this process from the pre-historic and early historic religious, mythic and philosophical meditations which structure ideas about mimetic representations of life, via Classical and Early Modern sculpture, through a radical proto-feminist revision crystallizing around the monstrous consequences of the transgression in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and finally into film and more specifically animation. The article culminates with a relatively detailed account of these processes in the Toy Story franchise, which is a heightened example of how animation can stage a narrative in which ostensibly inanimate sculpted toys move of their own volition, and of how this double form of animation does this reflexively, by ontologically performing the toys’ animating act. The animated films analysed also engage with the transgressive and monstrous consequences of this double form of animation, which derive from the intertextual life of those narratives that challenge God’s prohibition on mimesis.
CitationGeal, R. (2017) 'Animated Images and Animated Objects in the Toy Story Franchise: Reflexively and Intertextually Transgressive Mimesis', Animation, 13 (1) p.69
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