Kayla Parker



This thesis interrogates the ways in which the body-centred practices of women film artists embrace the materiality of direct animation in order to foreground gendered, subjective positions. Through the researcher's own creative practice, it investigates how this mode of film-making, in which the artist works through physical engagement with the film materials and the material processes of film-making, might be understood as feminine and/or feminist. Direct animation foregrounds touch as the primary sense. Its practices are process-based and highly experimental, because images are made through the agency of the body operating within restrictive parameters, making results difficult to predict or control with precision. For these reasons, direct animation has not been embraced by mainstream, narrative-focused, studio-based models of production, unlike other forms of two and three dimensional animation. It has remained a specialist area for the individual artist and auteur, and, to date, there is a paucity of commentary about direct animation practices, and what exists has been dominated by male voices. In order to develop ideas about the ways in which women represent themselves in an expanded film-making praxis that is focused on the body and materiality of process, this PhD inquiry, encompassing a body of films with written contextualisation, is situated in the context of the direct animation practices of three artists (Caroline Leaf, Annabel Nicolson, and Margaret Tait); and informed by conceptual frameworks provided by Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva and Hélène Cixous. This thesis proposes, via interaction between these three axes of research, that women film artists, operating independently, are able to create a female imaginary that represents women and is recognised by them, by constructing positions of practice outside the dominant symbolic modes of patriarchy, which evolve through the maternal body and the materialities of the feminine

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