ANIMAFEST PRO | ANIMAFEST SCANNER VII | SYMPOSIUM FOR CONTEMPORARY ANIMATION STUDIES | Panel 1 - HEAVY LIKE THE WORLD: ANIMATION IN THE WORLD OF CHAOS
Protest, Panic and Pandemic: Animated Abstraction and Meaning in Hong Kong’s Age of Chaos - Max Hattler (City University of Hong Kong)
Over the past year, Hong Kong has seen unprecedented disruptions of public life through ongoing anti-government protests and the city’s health emergency response to the 2019-nCoV viral epidemic. This situation has thrust the semi-autonomous region into an economic recession, which is hardest felt by its most vulnerable constituents who are already suffering from the highest wealth disparity in half a decade in the most expensive housing market on earth. The past year has also triggered an existential crisis for Hongkongers, a crisis of confidence and fear of an uncertain future, in which old wounds of the 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2014 Umbrella Revolution have been reopened, leading to increased distrust in government institutions and deepening divisions within society.
Media representations, especially in the age of social media filter bubbles, tend to reinforce personal opinions and societal divisions. We posit that moving-image abstraction can constitute a space through which more open-ended meanings can be negotiated by an audience. To this end, the author has created new experimental animation films which take up contemporary Hong Kong themes including social housing and the anti-government protests, to explore animated abstraction as a discursive space. These works are contrasted with recent films by several Hong Kong-based artists which employ alternative and experimental ways of narrative processing in response to more traditional modes of moving image storytelling.
A dedicated taxonomy of meaning in abstract animation is proposed as a framework from which to develop a narrative-abstraction vocabulary for artists and scholars to work with. What role do the works of Hong Kong artists play in shaping this, and what are the unique perspectives that these works can offer for such an endeavour? This presentation is part of the author’s research project 'Towards a Taxonomy of Meaning and Narrative in Abstract Animation: A Study of Contemporary Hong Kong and International Artists.'
Max Hattler is a German video artist, experimental filmmaker, animation researcher and educator based in Hong Kong. After studying in London at Goldsmiths and the Royal College of Art, he completed a Doctorate in Fine Art at the University of East London. Hattler’s artworks have been presented around the world. Awards include London International Animation Festival, Cannes Lions, and several Visual Music Awards. He has presented papers at the Society for Animation Studies Conference, CONFIA in Portugal, and Animafest Scanner. Hattler serves on the board of directors of the iotaCenter and the editorial board of Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal. He is an Assistant Professor at City University of Hong Kong.