Animating African History: Digital and Visual Trends.

Callus, P., 2018. Animating African History: Digital and Visual Trends. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History. (In Press)

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Abstract

Contrary to popular belief, the animated moving image on the African continent has long and diverse histories across many countries. Although it shares both the technology and some of the formal aspects of cinema, its historical development followed a different trajectory to that of indexical film, both in Europe and in Africa. This may be because of animation’s ability to draw upon a range of artistic practice, which has meant that it can take many guises; at times appearing like a cartoon, other times like puppets or sculptures that come to life, a metamorphic drawing or painting, and even a photographic montage. In addition, whilst animation tends to be associated with content specifically intended for a children’s audience, it has in fact been an effective vehicle to conceal socio-political critique that would otherwise be considered problematic. Different animators in Africa have used animation to this end, presenting subversive and social-realist content within the unrealistic depictions of fantastical stories, the parodic, comedic or allegorical, or culturally located visual metaphors. African animators have also used animation to safeguard and give permanence to the stories, myths and legends they grew up with. These legends have occasionally also informed animated super-heroes in games like the Kenyan mobile phone application Africa’s Legends, or the cast of an Afro-futurist setting such as Nigerian ‘Afro-anime’ production Red Origins. With the onset of digital technology the landscape of animation in Africa has seen a mushrooming of activity from expert and non-expert prod-users. Their work circulates in formal and informal settings, whether visible at a festival, on television and mainstream media, in online social-networking spaces or on video streaming sites such as YouTube or Vimeo. The prolific characteristic of animation made for digital spaces has resulted in a paradoxical simultaneous visibility and invisibility. Networks of African artists have benefitted from the visibility and distribution that the Internet and smart phone technologies offer; for example Kenyan multi-media artists Just a Band were quoted as saying that they were discovered online before they were discovered in Nairobi. However the ephemeral and transient quality of these digital spaces can also be problematic from the archivist’s perspective as digital traces move and change. For this reason it is increasingly important to capture the traces that African artists leave in this dynamic space as they reflect the zeitgeist.

Item Type:Article
Series Name:Oxford Research Encyclopedias (ORE)
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:30784
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:31 May 2018 14:26
Last Modified:31 May 2018 14:29

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