Body, Mind, And Affect: Three Studies In Contemporary Animated Film
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The complete representational freedom afforded by animation has long made it the site of slippages between visual strategies that prioritize “exterior” and “interior” notions of reality. This capacity to balance “mimetic” and “abstract” impulses harmonizes with the flexible methodologies recently developed by affect theory, whose investigations of disparate notions of “feeling” have foregrounded subjects that evade neat linguistic apprehension. This thesis argues that affect and animation fulfill and enrich one another, emphasizing their shared fascination with issues of cognition, embodiment and subjectivity. Pixar’s Inside Out (2015), Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s Anomalisa (2015), and Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001) substantiate these resonances, using animation’s depictive fluidity to engage with pressing theoretical questions: affect’s imperfect methodological rigidity, the co-constitutive “circuit” that commingles body and mind, and the influence of received aesthetic values on our subjective interpretation of affective phenomena. Together, these films demonstrate how interweaving the vocabularies of animation and affect provides new ways of sorting out where “feelings” come from and how we ought to engage with them.