Toward an Ethics of Animation was the world premiere of Anna Craycroft’s stop-motion animation film, which the artist constructed by shooting new footage weekly in her exhibition and residency “Motion into Being” as part of the Department of Education and Public Engagement’s Spring 2018 R&D Season: ANIMATION.
The screening was part of an illustrated dialogue with art historian Gloria Sutton. Together, Sutton and Craycroft unpacked the ways that Craycroft’s exhibition explored animation—the movement of images and bodies—to raise new questions about sense and meaning within contemporary art. Using a historically specific twentieth-century apparatus (Max Fleischer’s Setback Camera and Walt Disney’s Multiplane camera) to not only capture images over the course of her residency at the New Museum, but also to interpolate the material culture of more contemporary imaging technologies, Craycroft built an accretive, time-based examination of personhood and anthropomorphism. The resulting animation demonstrated how understandings of personhood are comprised of complex and often contradictory attitudes, expectations, and definitions. Distinct from the ways that early twentieth-century European avant-garde film advanced narratives of “failed vision” and “enlightenment” within the transformation of modern life, this conversation reconsidered the aesthetics of abstraction and experimentation that are beholden to an ethics of contingency and fragmentation within contemporary culture.