Presented at the Symposium Narrative Structures and Visual Storytelling, Literaturhaus Stuttgart, Germany, 2016.
Animation installations intrinsically rely on the space where they occur. Some are tied so closely to the place where they appear, that once displaced, their meaning essentially changes. Others are less dependent on the particular place, but rather on the spatial organization of elements within the installation. Depending on their nature and purpose, animation installations show different content varying from immersive environments and abstract imagery to figurative, highly narrative stories. This paper will focus on the narrative aspect of animation installations that feature representational visual imagery in spatial context. The aim is to explore alternative narrative approaches to storytelling in animation, which employ physical space not only as a container for the story, but as an integral part of it.
When presenting animation films outside traditional screening venues, the fixed viewing position is compromised, and with it, the storyline, as we know it, stops to exist. Animated sequences no longer replace each other only in a linear succession, in a timeline, but they coexist in physical space forming juxtaposed interrelations. To create stories for such installations novel storytelling approaches are needed. These are more open, flexible narrative structures that offer a layered experience, but demand active participation and interpretation from the audience. To exemplify this approach, the paper will address several animation installations that I created for gallery presentations. Splendid Isolation (2010), Sisters (2012) and The Family Portrait (2016) tackle the storytelling potential that animation installation can offer, where space is considered as a narrative device which supports and drives the story.