Animation, Sport and Culture by Paul Wells (auth.)

By Paul Wells (auth.)

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Film’s multiple and extensive degrees of constructedness in the computer is now a far cry from its original status when purely defined and evidenced through raw photographic 30 Body Languages – Early Sporting Animation 31 footage. Again, I do not wish to make this a major preoccupation of this particular discussion, but through the consideration of the relationship between animation and sport it will be possible to say something about the definitions of both. I have already suggested, for example, that the constructed artifice of sporting practice, though real and serious in and of itself, is still grounded in the degrees of ‘belief’ that accept its specific terms and conditions of execution and exhibition, and it is clear that animation very much shares this condition.

As O’Mahony has pointed out, though, Marey’s achievements in early photographic practice have overshadowed the research he undertook with colleagues from the department of physiology in the Collège de France during the 1900 Paris Olympic games: At this time, he combined forces with physical culturist, Georges Demeny to produce a series of photographic studies of gymnasts in motion. Marey and Demeny, like [Baron Pierre] de Coubertin, were inspired by widespread concern regarding the potential physical degeneracy of the French citizen since the Franco-Prussian war of 1870–1871.

This echoes the spirit of novelist and former competitive swimmer Jenifer Levin, for example, who used her background in swimming in her first novel, Water Dancer (1982). She notes: I am interested in writing about people who use sport in this way, as a metaphor for the extreme and significant moments and passages in the rest of their lives. Sport as sport actually doesn’t engage – it’s this transformational aspect of it that is physically tangible, emotionally and psychologically and intellectually perceived – that’s what interests me about the athletic experience.

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