Superanimism: The practice of formalised imagery






  • This essay discusses the dichotomy between visual, animated images and the abstract computer program that generates them. This digital and numerical base adds an extra dimension to the animation, whereby the creative experience is divided into a number of different levels.

    Digital images are informed by the status of their algorithmic source, creating in the viewer a kind of numerical perception, thereby introducing scientific knowledge into our understanding of the visual. But because of the computer’s formalism and arbitrariness, the relation between algorithmic source and the electronic visual effect is not stable. Imagery is of a different experiential type to logical structures, and this causes their disjuncture or alienation, although they are logically and deterministically connected. Thus synthetic images do not appear “human” or manmade but objective or “natural,” like photographs.

    The underlying algorithm is so contingent that in terms of being an accessible entity it hardly exists at all without reference to its sensory manifestations. The actual substance of the animate is diffused into so many different levels at once, it loses its ontological identity. These effects lead to a description of a computer animation as an object able to vitalize both tangible and intangible spaces and become a super-animate.

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