Miriam Harris (New Zealand)
1 – Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
Miriam Harris is an experimental animation practitioner and Senior Lecturer in Digital Design at AUT, New Zealand. She completed Post-Graduate study in Digital Animation and Visual Effects at Sheridan College, Toronto, and her experimental animated films have won awards at international film and animation festivals. Her research has explored the amalgamation of text and image in animation and graphic novels, and issues surrounding memory, narrative, and perception, with essays published in the books Animated Worlds (2007), The Jewish Graphic Novel: Critical Approaches (2008), and 24 Czech and Polish Animators (2011). She is on the editorial board of the animation journal Animation Practice, Process, & Production, edited by Paul Wells. Together with Lilly Husbands and Paul Taberham, she is a co-editor of the book Experimental Animation: From Analogue to Digita’ (2019) published by Routledge.
Reflexivity – a medium’s acknowledgement of its own inner-workings – is a strategy that Paul Wells and Maureen Furniss identify as being a feature of experimental analogue animation. In the exploration of reflexivity, the spectator is afforded the opportunity to ‘look under the hood’, and this in turn extends the works’ creative and expressive repertoire. Given that commercial digital animation often strives towards a slick seamlessness, experimental digital animation that exposes what lies beneath a smooth veneer contains the potential to subvert the status quo. Experimental digital animator Alan Warburton identifies the political nature of peering under the digital hood, observing that CGI as an ‘ideological tool’ is ‘powerful, ubiquitous and (most importantly) it obscures its origins. I’m pretty sure that anything powerful that is designed to be made invisible should be made visible’ (Warburton 2014).
This paper explores several examples of reflexivity in the field of digital animation, and reflects upon the particular aesthetics that are unique to digital reflexivity, as well as the ways in which these examples subvert the social and cultural status quo.