Apr 7, 2011

Self Reflexivity, Modernism, and the American Cartoon

While reading Norman M. Klein's Seven Minutes: The Life and Death of the American Animated Cartoon, one aspect that was fascinating was Klein's relations between the modern constructs of painting and the advent of modern American animation. The major characteristic that makes both a painting and an animation modern is self-reflexivity (as seen in the 1863 painting Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe (The Picnic) by Edouard Manet--pictured at the beginning of this post). There is a self-reflexivity of medium in the sense that both the limitations and boundlessness of the medium are reflected and made aware to the viewer. The artist always returns to the specific tendencies of the medium in order to communicate the narrative. Klein states:

"Truth to materials is also amounted toa simple act of isolation. Locate a device that is essential to your medium, like the texture of paint, then isolate it. Keep the device quarantined from the standard vocabulary in the art-form. Eventually, after a great deal of work, the device replaces the vocabulary altogether and becomes the entire piece." ( Klein 169)

Looking at pieces like Bobe Canon's Gerald McBoing Boing (1951), and the piece One Froggy Evening (1943) by Chuck Jones, one can see that there is a concern to design and consideration to medium. There is a self-reflexivity of the medium that makes us not only aware of the constraints of the work as an animation, but also, we are made aware of its limitless in content and form because of its dedication to its medium.


Seven Minutes: The Life and Death of the American Cartoon by Norman M. Klein

|| Post by: Stephanie Clark ||

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