A Sabbatical Proposal for 2015-16
Dr. Lori Landay


Animation (breathing life into objects and creating the illusion of life through movement) has fascinated people from mythology in ancient times to recent fiction, film, anime, philosophy, and journalism that grapple with very real forays into robotics, artificial intelligence, and interface design. Animation is one of the techniques that cuts across many of my theoretical and practical interests: video games, virtual worlds, performance capture, augmented and virtual reality, interactive interfaces, and immersive media.

Increasingly, we represent ourselves with animation and have experiences in animated environments. We can use kinetic and haptic interfaces (such as motion capture with a Kinect sensor) for direct physical control of animation.

The Big Questions

The big questions for this project are: How do we use animation to construct and express subjectivity, how does using animation shape our experience of self and our connections with others, and how does interacting with animated and autonomous objects (like robots, artificial intelligences, and non-player characters) affect subjectivity?

I will investigate these questions, and the many subquestions they raise, through connected intellectual inquiry, creative practice, and innovative scholarly output. I will take a constructionist approach, and learn by making animations with a range of techniques, including stop-motion, 2D, 3D, and motion capture using the Kinect sensor. By emphasizing animation in games and interfaces in everyday life, I will explore how subjectivity is increasingly animated, both in our own experiences of self, and in our perceptions of the “smart” objects with which we interact.