Februay theme: AI and Animation

Guest curated by Nea Ehrlich and Julia Eckel

Deadline: February 14, 2022

The definition of animation is constantly shifting and has been a recurring topic of discussion within animation circles. One of the many reasons for this fluid nature of animation’s terminology is animation’s link to developing image technologies. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been at the cutting edge of recently evolving technologies for the last few years. It can do interesting and wondrous things. It is being incorporated into numerous industries and used for varied goals. Animation’s relation to AI is multi-layered and as such clearly requires attention since it raises many questions and new issues within animation discourse.

AI’s relation to animation can include deep learning through animated data sets or the output of animated imagery. AI research is currently being conducted by central players in the animation industry such as Disney and Pixar developing deep learning-based methods for face swapping and the production of highly realistic images or the automation of 2D character animation. The increasingly automated and generative nature of contemporary digital animation raises many questions about the characteristics and nature of animation and what it may become. This includes the varied new aesthetics introduced into the field, the changing role of the animator as well as notions of creativity, expression, and agency, the centrality of data and its mutating forms, and the constant tension between randomness and control in AI animated works. The ease of production based on increasingly accessible technologies invites many new players into the creation process, whereas the blackboxing of complex techniques also creates blind spots and mysteries that would benefit from exploration. The epistemological and ethical aspects of increasingly complex image technologies of animation, as animation becomes a central aesthetic in information culture, is incredibly important to explore.

The changes in software and hardware configuration not only emphasize the shift from outcome to process but prompt many new questions about the cultural impacts of new digital imaging technologies and the constantly widening sphere of animation. This theme thus represents an opportunity to expand the discussion and examine the overlap between animation and Artificial Intelligence. By exploring the concepts, technology, history, and philosophy of the intersection between AI and animation studies we hope to forge new connections between these disciplines and industries.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  •  artificial Intelligence and machine learning in animation theory and practice;
  • (automated) character and set design;
  • randomness vs. control;
  • rethinking data in contemporary animation techniques;
  • artists and animators;
  • exhibitions, festivals, and display;
  • the intersection of arts and industries;
  • multi-disciplinary perspectives;
  • AI, animation, and virtual spaces (VR, AR, XR);
  • the role of the animator;
  • data discrimination and biases, politics of AI in animation;
  • analysis of specific works;
  • past, present, and future of the intersection between AI and animation;
  • myth, mystery, and magic in AI;
  • new forms of vision, new forms of visualization;
  • participatory AI animation and the role of the viewer.

Posts of between 600 and 900 words, which discuss any aspect of the above topic are welcome. Contributors are encouraged to include clips and at least one image to support their posts. Please also include a short bio and 3 keywords. All permissions are the responsibility of the contributor. Please contact the guest curators Nea Ehrlich (neae@bgu.ac.il) and Julia Eckel (julia.eckel@rub.de), and Animation Studies 2.0′s managing editor Cristina Formenti (cristina.formenti@uniud.it) with submissions or questions.