Contexts for Caricaturing: the spectrum of expressing
Abstract: What guarantees that an animated expression will be “read” correctly? What standards about the degrees of caricature guide both the animator and audience? This paper explores conventions from caricature and animated films: 19th-Cenury “big-head” portrait charge cartoons; the near-faceless doll heads of puppet animation; the Disney standards; the simplified heads of independent animators; the steady evolution of CGI “heads.”
As context, I will review systems of facial depiction: facial recognition software; nonverbal signage; symbols for autistic education; a training manual for carnival caricaturists; and the homunculus, which visually registers sensory and emotional extremes.
I propose to survey these possible ranges for both minimal and “over-cooked” expressive caricature, hoping to discover universal principles across animators and traditions.
Biographical Statement: Since 1979, I have been a Professor in Liberal Arts at Minneapolis College of Art and Design, teaching animation history and analysis, film history, writing, media analysis, history of jazz, and ethics and aesthetics. From 1978 to 1999, I was also a freelance writer and critic, primarily for City Pages alternative weekly, where I interviewed, among others, Chuck Jones, Robert Breer, Osamu Tezuka, Paul Fierlinger, Andreas Deja, Glen Keane, Bill Plympton, and Sally Cruikshank. I am especially interested in cross-pollinations of media, arts and cultures — in keeping animation understood within the wider contexts of other art forms or historical developments.