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Drawn from LifeIssues and Themes in Animated Documentary Cinema$
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Jonathan Murray and Nea Ehrlich

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780748694112

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694112.001.0001

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Adorno, Lewis Klahr and the Shuddering Image

Adorno, Lewis Klahr and the Shuddering Image

Chapter:
(p.143) Chapter 8 Adorno, Lewis Klahr and the Shuddering Image
Source:
Drawn from Life
Author(s):

Andrew Warstat

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694112.003.0009

This chapter considers animation’s relationship to the document and documentary form from a broadly Marxist perspective. It uses Marxist aesthetic theory to demonstrate how analysing an animated film’s ‘constructedness’ can allow for critical examination of the construction of reality as lived under capitalism. Specifically, the chapter analyses the stop-frame and cut-out animated films of Lewis Klahr. Klahr’s films show capitalist reality not as an unmediated realm, but as a reality enmeshed in American and European image cultures. His films are literally built from the material residue of the recent past, creating dense psycho-social narratives out of re-animated ‘dead’ images. This chapter views Klahr’s films as realist documents in relation to two arguments. Firstly, Siegfried Kracauer’s suggestion that film engages reality through its constructed “material dimension”. Secondly, Theodor Adorno’s proposal that the shuddering (animated) image is encoded with a hidden, social content that provokes unease in the viewer.

Keywords:   aesthetic theory, cut-out animation, document, documentary, Lewis Klahr, Marxist, stop-frame animation, Siegfried Kracauer, Theodor Adorno

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