Animated Film - relational time-based practices and expanded animation
The animation-department has been conceptually and methodically restructured, as we work together with students and colleagues to more and more deliberately reformulate a technical understanding of animation (animation as a subfield of film, realized within a canonical, though constantly expanding, body of techniques to be taught to students) into an expanded concept of animation (to a certain degree but not exclusively in the sense of "expanded animation", as Brigitta Hosea has theorized). "Expanded" in this case means that animation is first understood as an open reference system of artistic practices, that can include and confront techniques and dispositives of drawing to writing to video, of performance or interventions in and with social practices, of cooking or of experiments with the occupation and appropriation of (for example urban) spaces. Only in the very negotiation of these relations, in collective and individual formats, questions for example of the relationship between still and the moving image, the production and the constructive break of continuities and consistencies, finally steps into foreground.
From drawing in sand to programming an AI, animation engages in the process of creating narration via movement and temporality. Here, the student, very much encouraged to collaborate and share practice in team processes, come with his/her own motives and goals, free to experiment a lot of technics. In this sense it is a specific concept of "technic" or "technology" that we consider as particularily relevant. In its derivation from the Greek techné = 'art, craft, craftsmanship' and 'logia', 'word, doctrine, studies', this term, in its most basic understanding, addresses a collection of processes, tools, methods and skills that have been developed and systematized to some degree to allow the realization of a specific object. This object can be a thing, as well as a non-material effect - such as the knowledge produced in a scientific experiment or in a philosophical reflection. As the philosopher Boyan Manchev has suggested, the Greek concept of techné, understood as the process of des/organization today allows for a much more complex and challenging understanding of 'technology' - as a term that in its reading as canonical and institutionally substantiated ‘how-to-do ' for good reasons has been in such fundamental criticism in artistic education and practice since the 1960s. So we understand 'technology' as the knowledge of procedures and processes that structures - within and outside of an artistic field - and frames the field of possibilities, how to relate ourselves to ourselves and to our environments - something we then do in specifically different ways , Confronting other forms of knowledge leads to both: a productive destabilization of one's own position and an increasing awareness of what one's own practice and the technologies required for it might be.
The technical, theoretical and practical knowledge that seems to give the 'teacher' lead and dominance over the 'learner' can not be understood as a body to be 'handed over to the students. Instead, the central part of our collective work (again, of both : students and teachers) is to identify concepts, strategies, and only in relation to them: the needs of specific students and their practices. In short, we do not know what we are teaching, so a qualitative threshold between teaching and learning gives way to a form of open collaboration. The space of collaborative work that needs to be created, structured and worked on together is this space of collaboration. The next step is to find out in which fields (inside and outside the academic ones) the necessary knowledge in the sense of knowledge-processes and -techniques for the pursuit of the respective practices exists - and finally to help clarify ways of working and to realize connections which can act as productive reference systems in dialogue with the work to be developed. > autonomy of the student, gather his/her own toolset according to the specific ambition, creating indivual and collective processes.
Within our work, we follow a conception that gives preference to a concept of "practice", because within its basic understanding it does not seem to refer to the existence of a pool of "essential" means. The practice perspective emphasizes the openness of a field of operations and only secondarily: means of whatever kind to accomplish these operations. In other words, 'animation', as it is in the center of our teaching perspective, serves as a framework and starting point for a common reflection with the student, in relation to which one’s specific interest can be formulated. Thus, in each singular case this productive discussion redefines and shifts what animation can be.
Many of our experiments, which parallel to or entangled with the central individual projects and practices of the respective students occasionally unfolded collectively, - always shaped and often decisively initiated by the students of the department itself - aimed at a method of displacement. Within various frameworks proposed (ergTV, exchanges for example with EPOKA Albania or LaS Vielsalm, various collaborative projects like AnimLab, AnimationResearchGroup, GreyzoneZebra) we formulated and enacted at the same time aesthetic and aesthetic-political or -pedagogical resonances and reflections that interweave IN the collective negotiation of spaces of exchange between teaching and artistic practice - by requiring again and again a formulation and reformulation of one's own repertoire of procedures to be able to enter into a dialogue. A dialogue, that forms the basis for both: reflection and self-reflection. > individual meetings and workgroup sessions, the student is free to choose his way of working, alongside teachers and other students.
"(Artistic) animation" as a space of exchange in teaching / learning seems productive as pragmatic concrete (in the work on animated film) as well as a kind of counterpoint or specific framework, whose definition can not preexist before the dynamics of and in relation to the existing practices, reflections and actions. To interlink both perspectives and to realize a relationship of mutual questioning and strengthening between them, seems to be an essential task of teaching (and learning) in this field. In this sense, it is not the answer to the question "What is a studio of artistic animation?", But it is the question itself that can become the essential motor of a specific engagement.