The above epigraph to Marquez’s autobiography, Living to Tell the Tale , highlights the difference between the actual past and the past kept alive in memory. It is not so much that we remember what happened in the past per se, but by way of remembering and sharing our memories, we create a narrative of that past. The stories that we tell of our lives (as well as the ones that we choose not to tell) are the building blocks of the identities we fashion of ourselves as well as of our communities. It is in this sense that the memories we recount are constitutive of what Marquez calls life. By foregrounding the role of remembering in the construction of identity, the epigraph encapsulates one of the fundamental precepts of memory studies, namely that memory is more than a mere recollection of what actually happened in the past. Rather, it is a “fluid and flexible affair,” as Bond et al. (2018, 1) assert, a performative practice mediated through various modes of recounting such as places, rituals, as well as a variety of textual, visual, and other sensory media (Bal et al. 1999; Erll and Rigney 2009; Plate and Smelik 2013). Animation is one of these media. Whether made in pencil, paint, clay, paper, or sand, through the use of pin-screen or the landscape, with puppets or created by computer, what different forms of animation share is “the capacity for plasticity,” as Dobson et al. (2019, 8) recently observed. It is this plasticity, combined with the freedom animation offers to escape from the indexical qualities inherent to film, that makes it a particularly productive mnemonic medium. This book sets out to explore this dimension of animation.

Despite the burgeoning of scholarship in the fields of both animation and memory studies, the interrelation of animation and memory has largely remained an uncharted area of inquiry. This lacuna is particularly relevant for two reasons. An increasing number of animation films have addressed various forms, methods, and contexts of remembering and forgetting. Also, memory studies, especially recent work on the transnational, multidirectional, affective, and material dimensions of memory, provides novel theoretical and methodological frameworks to study animation as a mnemonic medium. In its potential to preserve, transmit, and mediate memories, animation constitutes a mediating technology that, often sharing intermedial relationships with photography, literature, and live action film, plays an integral role in the performance of personal and collective memories. Animation and Memory deals with a large variety of animated films, from stop motion to computer animation, from cell-animated cartoons to clay animation. Cognizant of the medium’s inherent differences from (as well as similarities to) live action cinema, this volume explores the ways in which animation can function as a representational medium and a technology of remembering as well as forgetting.

As increasingly vibrant fields of inquiry, animation studies and memory studies have undergone substantial changes over the recent years. While in her introduction to the 1997 edited volume A Reader in Animation Studies Jayne Pilling discusses animation’s “low visibility” compared to film studies (xi), as well as problematic definitions and the lack of an adequate terminology (xii–xiii), The Animation Studies Reader, published in 2019, already describes animation studies as a “vibrant and diverse” field that “reflects the multiplicity and intermediality of animation” (Dobson et al. 2019, 1). Unlike twenty years earlier, when the field was struggling to define itself in relation to film studies, today animation studies is less concerned with finding proper definitions and more interested in asking new questions pertinent to animation as a medium in the broadest possible sense. A number of recent studies have theorized animation thematically (Pilling 2012; Buchan 2013; Batkin 2017), on the basis of genre (Wells 2002; Cavallaro 2009; Honess Roe 2013; Clements 2017), form (Harris et al. 2019), technique and materiality (Ruddell and Ward 2019), global influence (Bruckner et al. 2018), and neuroscience (Bissonnette 2019). Most recently, animation studies has increasingly become a transnational endeavor, propelled both by the transnationalization of the entertainment industry and a growing understanding of animation history, as demonstrated by a special issue on this topic published by the Society for Animation Studies (Agnoli and Denison 2019).

The so-called spatial, cultural, transcultural, transnational, affective, and material turns in the humanities and the social sciences over the past decades have catalyzed new discourses and terminologies for rethinking memory in the twenty-first century. As Lucy Bond, Stef Craps, and Pieter Vermeulen (2018, 1) assert in their recent volume Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies, memory is “presently conceptualized as something that does not stay put but circulates, migrates, travels; it is more and more perceived as a process, as work that is continually in progress, rather than as a reified object.” Rather than restricting memory research to monolithic categories of nation, culture, and generation, memory studies has been moving toward exploring memory’s transnational, transcultural, and transgenerational dimensions (2).

The general move toward investigating memory’s inter- and transdisciplinary dimensions that characterize contemporary research in memory studies is reflected in the kinds of questions asked within animation studies. Increasing emphasis is laid on the performative and affective dimensions of animation from the point of view of the spectator. As Lilly Husbands and Caroline Ruddell (2019, 10) contend, “examining animation in spectatorial terms opens up opportunities to explore not only what animation is but also what it can do—what it can show us and enable us to feel” (italics in the original). Likewise, the shift of emphasis from the ontology of animation to the spectator’s experience requires that such unique properties of animation as the illusion of movement and metamorphosis be examined from a phenomenological perspective (Buchan 2006). These new lines of inquiry in both animation and memory studies have created a solid platform for cross-fertilization between the two fields to which our volume seeks to contribute.

Animation and Memory emerged from a two-day conference organized at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, in June 2017. During the conference around forty-five international academics and animated filmmakers alike discussed areas of intersection between animated film and memory. What became clear, from the enthusiastic response to the call for papers, and the large number of attendants, was the need for a platform for cross-fertilization between animation studies and memory studies. This book, while only able to cover a fraction of the subjects discussed during the conference, hopes to catalyze further research in this area. What follows is a critical overview of the ways in which animation serves as a medium for the performance of personal and collective memory.

Animated Film and Memory

Chosen as the best animated film on the basis of a four-year poll carried out in 2002, Russian filmmaker Yuri Norstein’s Tale of Tales (1979) vividly illustrates the performative and mediated nature of memory, as it comes to the fore in the quote from Marquez in the epigraph. The film is structured like a series of loosely intertwined memories centered around the sacrifice of Russian soldiers in World War II, which underlines the significance of free association in the functioning of memory. Recurring scenes of soldiers departing for the war and their loved ones receiving letters of their deaths are interspersed with motifs of fairy tales and popular culture particularly recognizable for a generation of Russians who grew up in the wake of the war. As Mikhail Iampolski writes in his astute assessment of the film, Tale of Tales is not just a film about the shared memories of a generation who witnessed the war as children, Norstein’s film also explicitly uses the functioning of memory as a structuring device: “What confronts us is not simply a film about memory, but a film built like a memory itself, which imitates in its special composition the structural texture of our consciousness” (1987, 104). Specifically, the interlacement of scenes in an associative structure driven by visual symbolism foregrounds animation’s potential to reflect on the mediated and performative nature of memory.

Objects play a particularly important role in propelling the associative flow of memory, as exemplified by the madeleine cake in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time , which prompts the narrator to involuntarily recall his childhood memories. Recent scholarship in memory studies has dedicated distinguished attention to the role of material culture in the performance and mediation of memories (Munteán et al. 2017). Animation films have extensively addressed this dimension of memory at the levels of both narrative and technique. For instance, in the stop motion film After All (2017), by Australian filmmaker Michael Cusack, we follow a man clearing out his childhood home. Set against a black background that resembles a stage, memories, triggered by various objects he encounters, come to life and prompt an extended discussion between the man and his deceased mother, who used to live in the house. At the level of narrative, these objects delineate the contours of the absent person and provide an interface for connection. At the level of technique, Cusack’s puppets, in their deliberate artificiality, disclose the material texture of the animation, while the smooth movement of the camera between various scenes accentuates the associative structure of memory. Izabela Plucin´ska’s clay animation Liebling (2013) dramatizes precisely the opposite, when objects are devoid of memories for the amnesiac protagonist. The film compels viewers to perceive clay not simply as a narrative medium but rather as a material that blurs the contours between foreground and background, person and object, present and past.

No matter how personal, memories cannot be extracted from the collective experience of the past in which they are entangled. As Maurice Halbwachs (1992) maintains in his 1925 book On Collective Memory, one of the earliest and most salient works in the field of memory studies, individual memories are shaped by social frameworks. In his notion of cultural memory, Jan Assmann (2008) underlines the role of communities in keeping memories alive. The free association of memories in Norstein’s Tale of Tales is, for instance, just as personal as it is enveloped in the collective memories of his generation. Scenes of soldiers marching into the distance and letters falling from the sky, bringing news of their deaths to their families, evoke experiences that may not even be Norstein’s own but rather shared by many in his age group. Individual memories are constitutive of collective imaginaries of the past, sustained by the circulation of stories and myths, iconic photographs and films, as well as other products of popular culture. These shared imaginaries and sentiments, in turn, shape individual recollections, as the film’s title, Tale of Tales , also suggests.

Chinese animator Lei Lei’s Recycled (2012) showcases the interrelation between collective and individual memories from a different angle. Made in cooperation with French photography collector Thomas Sauvin, the film consists of a few thousand discarded private family photos recovered from a recycling zone outside of Beijing. Viewers are confronted with a barrage of visual imagery as the photos flash by at break-neck speed, often with multiple images juxtaposed. Family photos, as Gillian Rose (2010) and Marianne Hirsch (1997) have demonstrated, play a crucial role in sustaining a sense of cohesion and togetherness within families. In particular, the time-honored ritual of showing photo albums to family members and guests constitutes a performance of memory by recounting stories and anecdotes triggered by the photographs, while conventions of framing and posing in amateur snapshots both reflect and reinforce cultural norms and hierarchies. Once discarded, these photos cease to function as conduits for the transmission of personal and familial memories. In the hands of Lei Lei and Sauvin, however, they come to serve as frames of a film featuring people posing at similar landmarks in Beijing. As personal memories give way to collectively recognizable locations and conventions of posing, the images are literally recycled as vehicles of collective memories of the metropolis. With the inclusion of faded and damaged photographs, the filmmakers also lay bare the material texture of both the retrieved photos and the resulting film itself.

If material culture is key to the mediation and performance of memories, geographical locations are no less relevant. With the vanishing of milieux de mémoire (environments of memory), communities that once ensured the preservation and transmission of collective memories to posterity, Pierre Nora (1989) underlines the role of lieux de mémoire (sites of memory), where the past is kept alive through commemorative rituals woven around monuments, memorials, and a variety of locations laden with mnemonic relevance. Nora’s contribution has yielded voluminous scholarship on the spatial embeddedness of practices of memory (Young 1993, 2000; Foote 2003; Doss 2010; Trigg 2012) and worked as one of the catalysts of the “spatial turn” in memory studies. Owing to the variety and malleability of the materials it utilizes, animation is less tied to the constraints of physical space than live action films. Consequently, animated film yields plenty of possibilities to dramatize the relationship between memory and place, and serve as platforms for mnemonic practices in ways that live action films cannot. Vuk Jevremovic’s Patience of the Memory (2009) is a case in point. It depicts the history of Dresden by foregrounding the city’s material transformations over centuries of history (Pikkov 2010, 56). Inspired by artists who lived and worked in Dresden, the rise and fall of the city’s landmark buildings are animated through the application of archival footage overlain with layers of paint that form a palimpsest of shapes, colors, and media, thus dramatizing the city’s multilayered built environment. Layers also play an important role in Alexander Schellow’s Tirana (2011), which consists of drawings based on the filmmaker’s memory of his visit to the Albanian capital combined with live action footage, interviews, and satellite images. In a similar vein, How Steel Was Tempered (2018), by the Croatian filmmaker Igor Grubić, was filmed on location at various abandoned factory sites in Zagreb and Rijeka. The film combines a comic book style of digital animation with actual footage shot inside the empty factories. When a father takes his son to the now abandoned factory where he used to work, the factory comes to life through animated sequences inserted into the live action footage. Grubić’s film closely connects the memories of a lost socialist past to industrial heritage, illustrating the tenacity of memory over time, as well as its rootedness in place.

Places play a particularly important role in remembering traumatic events. Reworking Freud’s theses on the structure of the traumatic experience, contemporary trauma theory defines trauma as an event inassimilable into categories of consciousness, an “event without a referent,” in Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub’s words (1992, 102), which the traumatized subject unwillingly relives in various forms of traumatic reenactment. Sites of trauma constitute a particular category of memory sites. Insofar as trauma refuses to be recalled consciously as a memory, certain locations can function as triggers that compel the traumatized subject to relive or reenact their traumatic experience. Recently, animation studies has also witnessed a growing interest in the ability of the medium to engage with traumatic memory, as explored by Victoria Grace Walden’s chapter in The Animation Studies Reader (2019). As Walden argues, the increased attention to traumatic memory in animated film in recent years needs to be seen in tandem with the rise of the animated documentary, where animation can assist in “[drawing] attention to an individual’s subjective response to events, rather than claiming to represent official or purportedly objective accounts of an event” (84). Father and Daughter (2000), by the Dutch filmmaker Michaël Dudok de Wit, lucidly illustrates this point. The film focuses on a woman who is haunted by the absence of her father who left her at an early age. Despite the passing of the years and the changing of the landscape, the daughter time and again returns to the location of her abandonment, as though reenacting her experience of childhood loss. The film’s ambiguous ending reunites her with the memory of her father, who, despite the passing of years, remains the father of her childhood. Here, once again, the plasticity of animation allows for a sleek transition from an old woman into a young girl.

For other filmmakers, animation has been a means to work through trauma. Dennis Tupicoff’s The Darra Dogs (1993) functions as an investigation into the filmmaker’s trauma of losing beloved dogs one after the other as a young boy. The “blunt simplicity” of the animation style here perfectly befits an equally blunt narrative dealing with echoes of childhood loss in adult life in a “tough and haunting story,” as the New York Times wrote (Canby 1993, 16). In some of his other films, Tupicoff explicitly engages with the reconstruction of traumatic memory. In His Mother’s Voice (1997) we twice listen to the same radio interview with a mother whose son was murdered, first accompanied by a colorful, rotoscoped version of the murder, then played again, but now accompanied by sparser, black and white pencil animation of the interview itself and of the mother’s house. Not only does the repetition allow us to scrutinize the interview more carefully the second time around, but the employment of the two different animated visualizations also makes the viewer conscious of the influence that the visualization has on our experience of trauma.

While Dudok’s and Tupicoff’s films demonstrate animation’s potential to dramatize the impact of trauma on a person’s life, such traumatic experiences as genocide and the destruction of war leave an imprint on the collective identities of groups and generations of people (Eyerman 2001; Alexander et al. 2004; Craps 2013). The memory of Auschwitz and Hiroshima, to name only two, is not restricted to those who experienced them firsthand, but their long-lasting impact has also affected subsequent generations. Over recent years, with descendants of genocide survivors engaging with the traumatic pasts that linger on in their families, the transgenerational dimension of memory has increasingly come into focus. Marianne Hirsch (2012) has coined the term postmemory, which denotes the enduring presence of trauma within the generation that came after the one whose members had actively experienced trauma. Although members of this new generation are temporally removed from the traumatic past, they have developed an affective relationship with it through their parents’ and grandparents’ stories. With a twist on the Freudian concept of “working through” trauma, Victoria Grace Walden (2019, 85) points to the proliferation of Holocaust-related Lego “brickfilms” that suggest “that post-memory generations need to play through traumatic pasts in order to feel bodily invested in them” (italics in original). These animations partake in the long tradition of using toys as an aide-mémoire , or a memory-aid, to reenact the Holocaust (Van Alphen 2005). Memories that fall outside the realm of trauma also have the potential to be owned by successive generations insofar as they are sustained by films, museums, and products of mass culture. Alison Landsberg (2004) refers to this type of memory as “prosthetic.” Prosthetic memories “emerge at the interface between a person and a historical narrative about the past, at an experiential site such as a movie theater or museum. In this moment of contact, an experience occurs through which the person sutures himself or herself into a larger history . . . ” (2).

Estonian animation artist Ülo Pikkov’s stop motion film Body Memory (2011) is centered on the post-World War II deportation of Estonians to Siberia by the Soviets from the perspective of a postmemory generation. Although Pikkov has no firsthand experience, the memory of the deportation has been passed on to his generation as an “unconscious experience,” which he calls body memory (Pikkov 2018, 36). Pikkov created a set reminiscent of the interior of a freight car in which yarn puppets fight for survival against an outside force that unravels them. The gestures of the trembling, moving, and unraveling puppets are life-like but, by portraying them as unwinding spools of yarn, Pikkov represents people as literally “shackled to their past by the yarn coming from their bodies” (150). The level of abstraction afforded by stop motion animation serves here as an expedient to render the body a mnemonic site that harbors the imprint of traumatic experiences.

Although Body Memory addresses the deportation of Estonians, the film is not generous with such contextual information. In fact, for viewers less familiar with Estonian history, the interior of the livestock car evokes deeply entrenched prosthetic memories of the Holocaust. In the light of the Holocaust’s prevalence in European and North American cultural memory, this association is not at all surprising. While the confluence of the Jewish and the Estonian deportation may be perceived as a problematic aspect of Pikkov’s film, it also provides a platform for engagement with both memories in relation to each other. As such, Body Memory attests to animation’s potential to establish a comparison in a non-competitive manner. Memory studies scholar Michael Rothberg (2009) calls this dimension of collective memory multidirectional. The model of multidirectional memory, Rothberg contends, “posits collective memory as partially disengaged from exclusive versions of cultural identity and acknowledges how remembrance both cuts across and binds together diverse spatial, temporal, and cultural sites” (11). In the context of Body Memory , as Jakob Ladegaard (qtd. in Pikkov 2018, 224) suggests, “we more often find productive attempts to negotiate such complex relations in artistic creations than in official political discourses. The way that Ülo Pikkov’s Body Memory tries to balance a national Estonian memory of World War II with an international Holocaust iconography is a case in point.”

A group of animation films that have been on the rise since the 1990s falls into the category of animated documentaries. Although the conventional understanding of documentary films emphasizes film’s indexical relation to reality, a quality with which animation is ontologically incompatible, documentaries increasingly make use of animation as a strategy of representation. Instead of reinforcing the ontological difference between animation and archival footage, Annabelle Honess Roe (2013, 2) regards animation as a productive medium that “broadens the limits of what and how we can show about reality by offering new or alternative ways of seeing.” As she continues, “by releasing documentary from the strictures of a causal connection between filmic and profilmic, animation has the potential to bring things that are temporally, spatially and psychologically distant from the viewer into closer proximity. It can conflate history, transcend geography and give insight into the mental states of other people” (2). Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir (2008) is an eloquent example of the animated documentary’s potential to problematize the amnesia that befell Israeli soldiers as a result of their inability to work through their guilt over the massacre of Palestinian refugees during the 1982 Lebanon War. Unlike Pikkov’s Body Memory , which addresses the collective trauma of victims passed on to subsequent generations in the form of postmemory, Waltz with Bashir engages with the trauma of perpetrators. To visualize what would otherwise remain repressed, the film uses animation as a means to reconstruct their forgotten memories (see Honess Roe’s chapter in this volume).

An essentially different example of animated documentary is Winsor McCay’s The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918), often regarded as the first film in this category. It pioneered the use of animated footage in lieu of nonexistent, actual footage of the ship’s sinking in 1915, which famously prompted the United States to enter World War I. By creating animated footage of an event that went unrecorded, McCay did more than provide a substitute to stand in for the absence of indexical evidence. As a medium of memory, the film attests to the potential of animated documentaries to “offer us an enhanced perspective on reality by presenting the world in a breadth and depth that live-action alone cannot” (Honess Roe 2019, 129). By doing so, especially with its sentimental ending featuring a young woman submerging in the deep with her child, the film also serves the function of propaganda insofar as it posits the sinking of the ocean liner as an act to be rightfully avenged. Even if the documentary’s fame fades with time, the widely circulated frame which depicts the Lusitania going under with her stern ascending and slightly listing has burned into our collective imaginary of World War I as a prosthetic memory.

Honess Roe’s approach to animated documentaries attests to the gradual shift of scholarly attention from animation’s ontological differences from live action (Denslow 1997, 2–4) toward the creative ways in which the two are entangled. With animation’s pervasiveness in everyday life (Buchan 2013), the destabilization of boundaries between animation and live action cinema has been regarded as an ongoing tendency, which raises new questions about the application of animation in the service of realism (Husbands and Ruddell 2019, 7–8). The increasingly popular technique of colorization takes animation as a performance of memory to a new level, as exemplified by Peter Jackson’s 2018 film They Shall Not Grow Old . In it, Jackson uses archival films of World War I and applies cutting edge technology to slow down and colorize original footage, thus creating a stunningly realistic experience of the war. Conceived as a cinematic memorial, Jackson literally retouches the original footage and renders the film a new kind of prosthetic interface for viewers to affectively engage with the past. Here, the purpose of animation is not to create the illusion of movement frame by frame, as conventional definitions would hold (Wells 2002, 5; Pikkov 2010, 14), but, literally, to retouch old footage frame by frame and, bring it closer to today’s viewers through the high level of realism achieved. Jackson’s project is a recent example of the evaporation of borders between animation, live action, and the documentary form, and it opens new horizons to exploit animation’s potential to catalyze mnemonic practices.

The Structure of the Book

Animation and Memory not only aims to serve as the conjunction of animation studies and memory studies, but also as an adjoining platform where other scholarly discourses, such as material, city, gender, trauma, and film studies, conduce an effervescent ground to divulge the intricacies of memory through the medium of animation. To do this, the book examines the fields of animation and memory studies through a variety of case studies that engage the problematics of (im)materiality, re-presentation, documentation, architecture, and the body. Consequently, the structure of the book is divided into five thematic parts, each of which focuses on a particular way of thinking about memory through animation, exploring how animation animates memories, or, how it deals with their absence. Moreover, each part of the book begins with an intervention by German artist Alexander Schellow, who, by using Indian ink drawings on see-through paper, employs drawing as a performative means of remembering, simultaneously a tool and a trace in the process of “memory reconstruction.”

Part I, “Memory and Materiality,” looks at the construction and mediation of memory through human interaction with profilmic materials, showing how animated materials can become a means of memory work in lived and meaningful ways. It suggests that memory is rooted in the experiential, where everyday objects can be either invested with latent memories or divested of them through particular animation techniques, such as stop motion and collage, or through the animation of materials such as clay. To develop a phenomenological understanding of how stop motion technique can be used to express memory and forgetting, Suzanne Buchan examines films by the Quay Brothers, Adara Todd, and Hiraki Sawa, suggesting how objects in these particular examples can activate eradicated memories in the diegetic presence of a living human protagonist that is witnessed by an audience. By specifically focusing on stop motion in her chapter, Buchan offers a new analytical framework that sees this technique as a performative vehicle for the reification of individual and cultural memory, as well as the loss thereof. Approaching materiality from a different angle, Maarten van Gageldonk delves into a body of recent collage films by the American animator Stacey Steers, showing how collage can become a rupture that reconfigures cultural memory through recontextualization, thereby subverting the gender-prescribed roles usually given to actresses in early Hollywood (Chap. 2). Afterward, László Munteán’s reading of Izabela Plucin´ska’s animation Liebling (2013) explores the affordance of clay in relation to representing amnesia. Unlike the way in which forgetting is key to the proper functioning of the brain in day-to-day life, amnesia denotes a whole or partial loss of memory caused by psychological trauma. Through his materialist interpretation of Plucin´ska’s animation, Munteán proposes that clay can operate as a material of amnesia through which the memory of things, people, and places emerges and vanishes in the animation (Chap. 3).

Part II, “Animation Techniques and Memory,” examines how the logical structures of the past and the present, and thus the memory of those, can be re-presented through different animation techniques, such as metamorphosis and drawing. Metamorphosis, for instance, not only allows animators to reflect the fluidity and performativity of memory, that is, its everchanging nature, but it also makes it possible to conceive of memory processes through the transmutation of individual still frames in animation. While animation’s primary currency is movement, Nicholas Andrew Miller explores a visual dynamic in which the antithesis of figural stasis is not motion but transformation, demonstrating how a single frame in Ruth Lingford’s Death and the Mother (1997) can operate structurally as a figure of the persistence of the past in the form of a remembered image (Chap. 4). By focusing on drawing in Robert Breer’s Bang! (1986) and What Goes Up (2003), Miriam Harris looks at how this specific technique makes references to autobiographical themes that can hurtle the viewer back to the pre-linguistic realm through the use of animation (Chap. 5).

Part III, “Trauma and the Body,” inspects the intersection of the body and memory in order to examine how animation can be used as a method of engaging with the unrepresentable, that is, the corporeal memories of past events that are sedimented within the body in the phenomenal world. By investigating the link between the body and traumatic memories, this part of the book asks how the bodily loss of a person after a traumatic accident can be transmitted, felt, and even perceived in another person. Furthermore, it questions how animation can blur the boundaries between past and present, thus collapsing temporal linearity, by linking traumatic memory to the body. Discussing the phenomenon of the phantom limb in Alex Grigg’s animation Phantom Limb (2013), Ali Shobeiri proposes that, for the animated character who has not physically lost a limb, but nevertheless feels this loss, the phantom limb’s sensations spring up as what he terms “antumbral memory,” a psychosomatic memory whose spectral shadow is felt in a person while its corporeal source is twice removed from that person (Chap. 6). Subsequently, by exploring the connections between traumatic memories and the body in Michèle Cournoyer’s animated film The Hat (1999), Ruth Richards looks at how the sustained metamorphosis of the body can function as a tool that allows the animator to interrogate the allusive and subjective dispositions of memory (Chap. 7).

Shifting its focus from the body to the urban environment, part IV, “Animating Urban Pasts,” looks at how recent animation technologies reconstruct vanished architectural sites of the past in order to deal with present debates on gentrification, collective memory, and cultural identity. Animation not only has the ability to enliven the city by previsualizing how it will appear in the future, but it can also digitally rebuild what has gone unheeded in the collective memory of its residents. Through reading several animated films made by Stan Douglas, Joel McKim explores how these animations digitally reconstruct a largely overlooked period of Vancouver’s seamy past that stands in sharp contrast to the current affluent image of the city as a metropolis of gleaming condo towers (Chap. 8). In the next chapter, Cansu van Gageldonk looks at Özlem Sulak’s recent animation film Cinema Emek , Cinema Labour , Cinema Travail (2016), suggesting how the artist not only uses animation as a mimetic substitution of the past, but also as a metonym to revitalize the collective memory of the recent protest against the gentrification projects in Istanbul (Chap. 9).

Part V, “Documentary and Animation,” explores how animation can comment on the collective memories of the past through exploring the documentational capacities of the medium. By particularly focusing on animated documentary, this part of the book sheds light on the possibilities and challenges of this genre regarding the representations of ancestral discontinuity and autism. Hannah Ebben offers a unique reading of the cultural representation of autism in the CBBC’s animated documentary My Autism and Me (2011), in order to decentralize a realist understanding of the clinical condition in favor of a cultural critique of ableist prosthetic memory (Chap. 10). In the last chapter of the book, Annabelle Honess Roe provides a salient analysis of two animated documentaries, Irinka and Sandrinka (2007) and Waltz with Bashir (2008), putting forward the contestational potential of this genre to counter long-established official histories (Chap. 11).

Through its unprecedented interdisciplinary approach and varied case studies, Animation and Memory aspires to construct a new theoretical and methodological platform that contributes to both the expanding field of memory studies and the germinating field of animation studies.


An intervention by Alexander Schellow

You see a trace left by an encounter—one frame of the animation, SHE, is split into six phases, which appear as interventions throughout this book in the reversal of the drawing’s creation: its disappearance.

I decided to give myself a task—to describe from memory as precisely as possible one drawing process:

The paper forms a shallow surface space. The tip of the brush is dipped into the ink. The edges of the format, in addition to being visible, can also be sensed from the body’s composure and the various hand positions. An association is created between the awareness of the hand, its position relative to the surrounding format, and the punctually construed recollection present in consciousness, which is not yet pictured at this point in time.

For years I visited HER in the clinic where she was staying. I became some kind of a “proximate other” to her, and she to me. The woman suffered from Alzheimer’s for many years. She had lost her capacity to remember, or her ability to be in (only) one other place seen from a “standpoint,” or to name an object and thereby say precisely “I” through this relation to the object. Vis-à-vis “her-self,” the woman is located in a sliding state of constant transformation on the outer surface of a body of memory now and forever closed; a state analogous to that which prevents her from identifying “something” or someone—not being able to address me as “you,” for example, at the other end of the room. And turned around again: if it were still possible, to say “me” to herself, would that not refer to a state of subject anymore? “Me,” here, might be the inexistent overlapping point of oscillating processes of (non-)consciousness. Then, who was that “you” who sat across from her all these years?

A shift of weight lowers the perpendicular brush to a point just above the surface of the paper, right before the swell of the ink touches the receiving stratum. The flow of the ink follows its contact with the surface. The spot is the trace of this contact between two materials. The precise quality of the outflow depends on the quality of the ensuing contact of release along with the complex surrounding conditions, such as the surface tension of the ink drop (affected by dilution factor, drop size, and temperature) or the texture of the paper surface at the exact marking point (fiber length, temperature, contours, thickness, and moisture of paper). The microscopic triggering parameters find their greatly intensified effect in the two-dimensionality of the spot: in its bounds, the very specific contours of its edges, its size, the dispersion of ink on the surface defined by it.

Later on, in the studio, through drawing, I remembered her image, dot by dot, frame by frame, in an endless process. This practice existed before our first encounter: dots are placed within a specifically defined set of procedures to create complex spotted structures, which serve as a trigger for projection—of concrete visual situations of the past. It is particularly their quality of indefinition that can be used to access a less conscious nexus of memorizing and forgetting, in order to process such past visual surfaces anew. Following such a method of drawing is neither a medium of reproduction, nor is what it produces simply a representation of a preexisting image. Rather, it can be seen at the same time as a tool and a trace within a process of remembering.

This marking, though it is minimal, transforms the entire surface of the format as it intervenes into its fragile relational system. In the case of the first dot, we could even say it renders the format primarily into such: a relational system, a network of punctual information, into which “an image” can be read.

Thus, once the first spot has been set, the described process is repeated under completely transformed conditions: as for now, the map is no longer only format and material. It contains a trace.

To date, about 15,000 single image reconstructions (re)animate, frame by frame, her facial landscape. The movement is perceived like a ghost, between failing representations. Their collapse concretely enacts the status of a subject in which the individual framework of perceptions and memories begins to dissolve, bordering on dysfunction. What appears are exclusively moments of “just before”—a perception, a thought, a memory. In such a zone, the individual begins to disappear; still, the result of this endless mental movement does not seem like an absence—neither of identity, nor of meaning. On the contrary, the drawings reconstruct a space of memory without remembering. A space that appears as a crystallization of that which might constitute itself as “subject”: a maximum of life in appearance and disappearance of momentary lines and traces of (his-)stories. Though they may be illegible, their complex potential is hardly arbitrary. What they enact could be seen as a communication without language; narration and utopia in a literal sense.

The oscillation between the individual parts of the perception apparatus (hand, sense of touch, eye, nerves, brain, etc.) expands toward a stronger reflexive zone that could be called a reading of predetermined information. Eye and hand, inasmuch as the hand reveals to the eye additional possibilities of exegetical placement (interpretations), search within the increasingly expanding framework of visual information for a visual perception that may be linked to the punctually triggering fragment of recollection.

I like the idea that “I” for “her” in this “scene” might have been something like how she was for me in the latter and still within an ongoing reconstruction process: a catalyst of an intertwined act of remembering and forgetting. One can play with such a thought, although it remains, of course, pure and unidirectional speculation.

Such reflexive projection of “a memory” interlocks at the point with the tentative hand and its positioning of information in that it becomes the increasingly dominant part of the recollection form as the drawing progresses.

The drawing is created from an oscillation between these components. In other words: step by step and increasingly dominant, the existing potential image overwrites the hybrid agility of the “original” recollection. It replaces the remembered as a form of materialized memory and performs a practical work of forgetting.

My grandmother died in November 2014 at the age of 101.