Tuesday, February 12, 2019

"From Animation to Martial Arts: Toward the Transcendence of False Movements," February 21 at Pitt.



The University of Pittsburgh's Pittsburgh Film and Media Colloquium will present Dr. Jinying Li and her talk "From Animation to Martial Arts: Toward the Transcendence of False Movements" on February 21.

Animation (donghua pian) and martial arts films (wuxia pian) have demonstrated close affinity with each other in the history of Chinese cinema. They overlap historically and conceptually. The martial arts films frequently rely on various animation techniques to create special effects in spectacular fighting scenes. Chinese animations often take their narrative and visual references from the genre conventions of martial arts, featuring fighting warriors and heroic fantasies in exotic sceneries in animated imagery. More importantly, both Chinese animation and martial arts cinema have constantly been endorsed with the nationalist discourse of cultural heritage, associated with such notions as “national styles” and “folk traditions,” suggesting their shared historical legacy in addressing certain crisis of national identity. Despite such close affinities, these two clearly connected forms of moving images have rarely been examined together in the studies of Chinese cinema. This talk aims to provide an analytical mapping of the historical and aesthetical connections between animation and martial arts cinema. I will particularly focus on the notion of movement, and demonstrate that both animation and martial arts emerged and developed in Chinese history as powerful vehicles to negotiate with competing conceptualizations of bodily motion and their implication in shaping a vernacular perception of space, time, energy, vitality, and physicality, all of which have been animating cultural discourses and activities as well as the formation of a national identity in China from early modernity to the digital age. These two forms of moving images, through closely related techniques and technologies, also tackle the question of movement as an intrinsic problem of cinema. With shared techniques such as sound effects and plasmatic physics, both animation and martial arts cinema struggle to overcome what Henri Bergson describes as the fundamental falsehood of cinematic movements.
The event starts at 5:30 in 602 Cathedral of Learning (map) and is free and open to the public.