In the context of animated installations, gaps are present in the physical space between the projections in the gallery or any other space where the work is projected. It is precisely these gaps, that the viewers traverse in their quest to derive meaning from the fragments of visual and audio stimuli. The physical gaps between the projections are spaces for exploration and are characteristic of animated installations, and might not be found in classic cartoons shown in single screen-based theatrical settings. It is compelling to draw a parallel between gaps in space, among which fragmented images and sounds resurface in physical space, and Norman McLaren’s definition of gaps between the frames of animated sequences, as mystical spaces where the magic happens. Both conceal mystery and are full of hidden potential.
The physical gaps have similar effect as the “gutters” between the panels in comics, or the off-screen space in films. They provide space (and time) for meaning-making. The suggestive power of these spaces is valuable for storytelling because it can arouse the viewers’ imagination, and motivate them to interact with the work. While gaps between projections do not contain visual stimuli, the sound not only makes a bridge between the different projections, but it also propels imagination and charges these spaces with meaning. The sound turns these gaps into meaningful spaces for contemplation, imagination and meaning-making. But so does silence.
This paper analyses several animated installation works with no dialogues, voiceover, or music, where the sound is used beyond its descriptive mode. It is used more independently, as a spatial, storytelling device, not obliged to relegate to the shadow of the animation’s visual world. The examples illustrate how the sound-movement traverses the space, surrounding the viewer, mapping the space, and carving a story in the viewers’ mind.

Keywords: Spatial narrative, sound, animated installation, animation, 360 storytelling, expanded animation, silence, storytelling with sound

Presented at Sound and Screen Conference, ADM/NTU, Singapore, 2022.