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  • Pars Pro Toto: Character Animation and the Work of the Anonymous Artist

    Hannah Frank

    Chapter from the book: Frank, H. 2019. Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons.


    Chapter three explores the limits of representation that take place in the individual frame. Part of the examination involves the use of abstract imagery to represent motion, explosions, or action in cartoons. As well as conveying the stilled abstraction at the heart of the realistic representation of movement, this chapter sees in these moments the anonymous work of laborers—largely women—whose work was marked as noncreative but which nonetheless produced images of beauty and imagination. Drawing on Eisenstein’s arguments about the politics labor, the chapter makes the case for animation as a collective production. Extending outward to consider the vexed authorship of Mickey Mouse, it looks at the limits of representing that character—and how the flexibility of Mickey’s image allows for a range of creative possibilities. Ultimately, the chapter uses these moments of abstraction to imagine the possibility of anonymous artistry.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Frank, H. 2019. Pars Pro Toto: Character Animation and the Work of the Anonymous Artist. In: Frank, H, Frame by Frame. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.65.d

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    Published on May 7, 2019


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