Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies) Graduate Theses

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    Nelvana Animation: Shifting Labour Conditions, Digital Tools and Their Influence on the Design of 2D Children’s Animated Series
    Kelly, Lauren B.; Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies); Pelstring, Emily; MacKenzie , Scott
    This research-creation project is supported by a theoretical paper overviewing the history of Nelvana Limited, the studio's economic growth and how the introduction of digital tools has impacted the aesthetic narrative of children’s animation. Applying the observations of cultural theorist Byung-Chul Han, the aesthetics of commercial 2D animation embrace smoothness as the positions of animators are reformed by neoliberal policy. The short film Bob and Anice Go To Corpo Hell compliments this research as an exercise in animation labour and an expression of the alienation of being a self-entrepreneur. Together, the works argue the value of human creativity within commercial animation production by linking the creative content of children's animated series to animators' working conditions and well-being in our digital age. Disrupting smooth aesthetics in animated works is one front on which animators can advocate for their labour: it requires changes to individuals’ workflow and level of creative input.
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    The Body, Touch and The Clay in Motion
    Malus, Andrea; Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies); Pelstring, Emily
    This media work project with a complementary written component is, in part, an exploration of the intergenerational trauma of survivors of the communist regime in former Czechoslovakia, where I grew up and began my artistic journey. In my thesis, I address the subject of controlling force and the symbolism of the hand as a tool for manipulation and a force of oppression. I discuss the view of the human body linked to thing theory, like an animator’s puppet or a prop, serving the large-scale system and playing a role in it. Furthermore, I explore allegory and its importance in translating the dissent with the regime in a way that allows for creative expression while, at the same time, shielding the source of its voice from dire consequences. Using the research-creation methodology, I examine the tactility and materiality behind the artistic mediums used in stop-motion animation. I specifically focus on various kinds of clay employing the methods of puppet-making, figural modelling, set building and animating in an attempt to bridge the disconnect and deformities of communication and elicit an embodied sense through emotional response in both the artist and the viewer. In both the film and installations exhibited during my master’s project exhibition, Traces of Gestures, the repeating imagery of hands and the transformation of clay point to the struggle for free expression, censorship, and oppression under the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989. The film, “The Dance of Malleability,” is layered with symbolism. Clay captures the traces of tactile gestures, expressions, and malleability, underlining the hand's profound relationship with the art medium. The film's narrative relays the dynamics of control as the two main characters engage in a dance of power, which, depending on one's perspective, does or does not resolve.
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    If Trans* Fish Could Sing: Trans* Embodiment in the Video Game
    Carandang, Francesca R.; Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies); Norton, Jenn
    This research-creation project is a study in the video game’s mediation of trans embodiment through the non-human. The non-human encapsulates the monstrous, the animal, and the inanimate, including tools used to make audiovisual media. Multiple independent games have used the non-human to express trans experiences or gender beyond cis-normative binaries. These games use monsters or animals as their characters, or implement non-conventional coding practices to reject cis-heteronormative structures of representation. Using the creation of the author’s own video game, and research across trans scholarship in the non-human and video games, this research-creation project examines possibilities for trans game practices.
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    She is Pregnant! She is Possessed! The Female Abject and Spectatorship in The Medium and Incantation
    Zhao, Ruizi; Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies); Vena, Dan
    This research paper provides an analysis of gendered representation and film spectatorship in two Asian found footage horror films, The Medium (2021, dir. Banjong Pisanthanakun) and Incantation (2022, dir. Kevin Ko). By using these two films as case studies and applying the theoretical framework of the abject, as developed by Julia Kristeva and, later, Barbara Creed, I argue that both of these found footage horror films present female characters as abject figures that horrify the audience because they threaten to challenge the societal conceived boundaries of human and inhuman, clean and unclean, and life and death. Instead of providing the viewer with cinematic visual pleasure, the abject female characters replace the pleasure with punishment. I hope this paper can recognize that women are still portrayed as the Other and the source of fear on screen in Asian horror cinema. However, it is equally important to note that women can deconstruct the power dynamics in the cinematic gaze by returning the gaze.
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    CompuTerra: A Xenofeminist Utopia
    Surette, Emilie M.; Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies); Tamara, de Szegheo Lang
    Combining research and practice, this work posits that an appropriate solution for climate crisis fatigue and eco-anxiety is the use of radical hope through art. Using Xenofeminism as a framework, CompuTerra imagines a world where technology and nature coexist, as plants evolve into computer components. The accompanying exhibition of the work includes yarn sculpture and animation, each imagining a different plant becoming part of the cybernetic ecosystem. Acknowledging the material history of yarn and the soft world-building possibilities in animation, CompuTerra explores the feminist utility of utopianism as a healing practice.