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Darkness visible: contemporary stop motion animation and the uncanny

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posted on 2023-08-30, 14:51 authored by Derrin Crawte
This thesis seeks to demonstrate that the uncanny and stop motion animation enjoy a special relationship, one characterised by a sense of darkness becoming visible. A range of scholars, including Barbara Creed, Tom Gunning, and Laura Mulvey, have recognised that film is capable of embodying the dark fears and concerns related to the collapsing of boundaries and merging of oppositions that are characteristic of the uncanny. Stop motion, this research argues, is a form that is written through with uncanniness. Stop motion animation is especially capable of conveying an experience of the uncanny because of the technical processes through which an impression of movement and life is created from stillness, inertia and death. The thesis explores its claims through in-depth investigation of Sigmund Freud’s 1919 essay on the uncanny, and a range of critical and literary texts and intertexts - including the work of Edgar Allan Poe, Stanislaw Lem, John Milton and Georges Bataille - which engage with different aspects of the uncanny, the death drive, and the human psyche. In tandem with these thinkers, the thesis investigates the work of filmmakers who have shown a willingness to fully engage with the darkness inherent in stop motion, and with the phenomenon of the uncanny, including Shinya Tsukamoto, Jan Švankmajer and the Quay Brothers. Collectively, this thesis argues, these writers, thinkers, and visual artists articulate a common interest in the darkness that characterises both the uncanny and stop motion: a predilection for rendering darkness visible.



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