1. The production of each space was also separate, almost a world apart, with the Pandora performances captured on an L.A. sound stage and the human base shot on sets in New Zealand. [return to page 1 of essay]

2. For animated characters, the relation between real world object and screen manifestation flows in a direction opposite that of traditional cinematography: rather than a profilmic object mediated on a screen, animated characters begin on screens but proliferate in objects, from stuffed animals and other toys to Mickey Mouse suits worn by Disneyland performers. In this respect, physical manifestations of animated characters are only tangible echoes of the “real” thing – or even their mediation, in the sense that they are instantiated in media different from their essential existence. [return to page 2 of essay]

3. For discussions of race, class, and sexuality in animation see Eric Loren Smoodin, Animating Culture: Hollywood Cartoons from the Sound Era (Chapel Hill: Rutgers University Press, 1993); Karl F. Cohen, Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2004).

4. In his essay, Mitchell personifies pictures in an effort to elucidate the ways in which pictures work, putting picture and viewer into conversation about what we want from pictures, and what they “want” from us. He associates pictures with colored and feminine bodies in part to explore their status as secondary to unmediated reality, as subaltern.

5. Rotoscoping is an animation technique in which live-action footage is traced over to produce animated movements.

6. Whereas Toons exist to entertain, Doodles don’t have a clear purpose for their existence. Without a firm diegetic motivation for being, they lack an identity of their own and are thus further othered as the dark reflection of the photographic world and the qualities it refuses to see in itself.

7. Harryhausen’s creatures, while primarily monstrous, also include fantasy creatures such as Pegasus and the mechanical owl that assist Perseus (Harry Hamlin) in Clash of the Titans. However, these native figures must be domesticated: the clockwork construction of Bubo the owl renders it a tool that can be subject to human control, and the wild Pegasus is broken and tamed by Perseus in order shed its monstrous status and usefully enter the world of the photographic humans.  [return to page 3]

8. According to the DVD appendices, in an unused scene a character was to have a vision of Frodo becoming like Gollum.

9. Barbara Creed attributes the lack of an unconscious to the failure of audiences to identify with digital characters. Although this statement contains interesting implications for our engagement with CG bodies, it is ultimately overly simplistic, for characters do have humans behind and within them (in written dialogue, spoken voice, motion-captured movements, etc.), who bring their own unconscious impulses to characters. The issue is perhaps more in the way we understand the multiple human and digital elements present within the body of the character. Creed, Barbara. 2000. “The Cyberstar: Digital Pleasures and the End of the Unconscious.” Screen 41 (1, Spring), 79-86. [return to page 4]

10. Rumors in early 2010 about a sequel or prequel projected a second film in two years, but Blomkamp has since shifted directions, directing Elysium instead (slated for 2013).

11. World of Warcraft is a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG, or MMO for short), in which players choose and customize avatars for socialization and gameplay within a persistent online space. [return to page 5]

12. See Lisa Nakamura for an excellent discussion of the default whiteness of cyberspace, as applicable to online spaces such as World of Warcraft. Nakamura, Lisa. 2002. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity and Identity on the Internet. New York: Rutledge.

13. “Avatard,” blog entry by Jeffery Sconce, Ludic Despair, January 2010.

14. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was a technological triumph in producing fine detail and ultra-realistic CG bodies, but the many criticisms levied at the animation in the film could be summarily grouped as disparagement for the lack of humanness found in its human characters (largely attributable to the film’s failure to avoid the uncanny valley). The tendency toward cartoonish characters in realistic settings (and with, for the most part, realistic lighting and sound effects) can be seen in any number of CG animated films in the last decade, from The Incredibles (2004) to The Adventures of Tintin (2011), the latter of which largely preserved the look of the original cartoon characters within a highly realistic environment.

Works cited

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Fanon, Frantz. 1967. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press.

Fuchs, Cynthia. 2006. “Wicked, Tricksy, False: Race, Myth, and Gollum.” In From Hobbits to Hollywood: Essays on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, edited by Ernest Mathijs and Murray Pomerance. Amsterdam: Radopi.

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Mitchell, W. J. T. 1996. “What Do Pictures “Really’ Want?” October 77 (Summer), 71-82.

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