PANEL 6 – Meaning Making
Body, combat and transmission in Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko’s The Legend of Korra
The Legend of Korra an American animated television series created by Michael Dante diMartino and Bryan Konietzko as a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender reached viewers and fans throughout the world in 2012. The stories take place again in the fictional world of the four nations, where people form tribes or nations relating to one of the four elements. Some of them, the so-called “benders”, can manipulate earth, air, fire or water telekinetically with movements portrayed in the form of different martial arts techniques. The cyclically reincarnating “Avatar” is the one who can master all four elements and keeps or restores balance among the peoples. This task is a recurring motive in the stories of both series and sets the plot each time into motion. In my presentation I will show that the body, combat and creativity form an important part of the bending process, since the techniques and their effectiveness are strongly connected to the abilities of the benders’ mind and body. The body in combat will also be an object of scrutiny. Emptiness and form also come into the focus during the critical approach to the bending process: they relate to the spiritual side of bending and, interestingly, these concepts reflect the views of Tibetan Buddhism from which the creators borrowed several allusions. I will also argue that the body, mind and combat serve as a medium for transmission. The opposition of benders and non-benders and going beyond this opposition will also be reflected upon during the comparative analysis of the two series. A postmodern form of martial arts also appear in the new series: my analysis will also shed some light upon the significance and the difference between traditional and pro-bending.
Kung Fu, time-honoured traditions, rethinking the DNA of 12 animation principles
The ‘12 principles’ are embedded within the history of animation, animation education, and the way animation is produced. We might redefine these principles as being the ‘DNA’ of animation; the fundamental building blocks we use to review, refine and enhance animation. Traditional Kung Fu martial art systems also base their fundamental instruction on building blocks: understanding how the body moves in the context of martial applications; developing skills based on observation and complex body movements. But how is this connected to animation pedagogy? This paper discusses the interdisciplinary relationship between these respective fundamentals and offers comparative thoughts on how they can help us reconsider models of animation education. The paper will also examine how we can repurpose movement analysis from Kung Fu to the context of animation education. The discussion will focus firstly on how these connections are introduced to a group of first year BA Animation students, and secondly on a pilot scheme where a small group of students are inducted into fundamental Kung Fu training principles, discussed and performed with attention to the perspective of animation. The animation exercise they produce in response to this will evidence this symbiotic relationship and allow us to review its successes and failures. Finally we will conclude by asking questions on the legitimacy of this re-contextualisation of the fundamental principles of animation.
Mag. Martin Minarik
Taekwondo Poomsae Competition as Theatrical Exhibition – Semiotics Versus Performative Aesthetics
In the pursued contribution I want to analyse the contemporary practice of Taekwondo Poomsae Competition on the basis of the 9th Poomsae World Championships, which recently took place in Aguascalientes, Mexico. In my examination I shall concentrate mostly on the aesthetics of Poomsae Competition and the embodiment of cultural and social spheres through the analysis of the theatrical categories: space, body, sound, and artefacts as developed by Andreas Kotte. The question will be, whether the aesthetics found in Poomsae Competition are to be seen as sign-like, or symbol-like. While the first one is driven by the concept of aesthetic expression being a sign for something, the latter one stands for the concept of being a symbol of something. Based upon the philosopher Ernst Cassirer, the main difference between the two concepts is, that a sign only refers to one certain information, while a symbol can refer to different information and can be interpreted in different ways. Set in the theoretical field of Theatre Studies, this shall further lead to the question, if the concept of theatrical semiotics3 (equivalent to sign-like), or the concept of the performative aesthetics (equivalent to symbol-like) is the main aesthetic paradigm. These two theories represent two opposing concepts of theatrical exhibition and theorize the interaction between performer and audience. This opens new opportunities to determine social and political embodiment in Poomsae Competition by analysing aesthetic expression and its influence on the performer-audience relationship.