ANIMAFEST PRO | ANIMAFEST SCANNER IIII - Symposium for Contemporary Animation Studies | PANEL 3: ANIMATION IN THE MIND
Analyzing Conceptual Blends in Animated Films - Erwin Feyersinger - Department of Media Studies, University of Tübingen – Germany
7/06 WED 11:25 - 11:55 Chilloutka, Ilica 15/1
One of the most striking aspects of animated film is a creative and surprising clash of established schemata and concepts, which can be seen, for example, on the level of character design when physiological and behavioural features of human beings and animals are combined or on a narrative level when unusual representations of time and space are explored. My paper proposes that Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner’s cognitive theory of conceptual blending is a useful tool for a close analysis of these complex configurations, their elements and organizing structures, and the emergent meaning. Conceptual blending is a powerful mental operation that human beings use to combine differing concepts located in various mental spaces, for example, the concept of a knife and of a dancer in Jan Švankmajer’s Jabberwocky (1971).
According to the theory, we establish counterpart connections between the elements in these mental spaces (blade and leg, handle and torso) and selectively project some of them to another mental space, the blended space, where these elements are integrated (the blade is a leg, the leg is a blade). In the blended space, new meaning emerges (a dancing knife that cuts itself and bleeds). While Mark Turner himself discusses two animated films, the Disney short The Art of Skiing (1941) and the featurette Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) in his article Compression and Representation, conceptual blending has rarely been applied to animation. In the paper, I will introduce the theory and show how it can be used for a better understanding of several conspicuous examples from the history of animation.
Erwin Feyersinger is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Tübingen. His research focuses mainly on animation, and relies on narratological, semiotic, and cognitive frameworks. He is member of the editorial board of Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal. He is initiator and co-coordinator of the scholarly interest group AG Animation as part of the Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft. Together with Franziska Bruckner, Markus Kuhn, and Maike Sarah Reinerth, he has recently published In Bewegungsetzen … Beiträge zur deutschsprachigen Animations forschung, a collection of German articles on animation.