Synaesthetic Syntax – From Screen to Space: The Haptic Experience of Exhibited Animation

Wes Anderson’s animations are populated with rough and bold textures. The textures are even more highlighted through the mediation of the camera and animators. The close-ups, the left to right and top to bottom puppets and camera movements simulating caress, the flat images with deep focus and shallow depth of field and the perceivable traces animators left on the puppets-the fur and different types of fabric and textiles-as a result of touching them constantly between the frames, cause the images to be haptic. However, the settings and puppets have been displayed in the physical spaces. For instance, in 2018, the settings and puppets of Isle of Dogs (2018) were displayed at Store X in London, and Mr Fox’s museum office is exhibited at Roald Dahl’s museum. In these exhibitions, viewers have an unmediated haptic experience, even though they cannot touch them due to being rare objects. Also, camera and animators as the primary sources for simulating cutaneous and kinesthesis sensations are deducted from the work in such exhibitions and cause miniature puppets and settings to remain motionless.

This presentation discusses such exhibitions as expanded animations, which provide a different haptic experience than the on-screen animation for the visitors by comparing the two modes. It also explains how haptic perception bridges the screen and the physical space. In doing so, this presentation will refer to the attractive characteristics of miniatures as inherently haptic works, the physical 3-D space of exhibitions, and the visitors’ proprioception in perceiving the puppets and the settings, combined with the memories and experiences of both on-screen animations and the real life. The following resources inform this presentation: Laura Marks’ The skin of the film (2000) and her specific definition of “miniaturism”, Jenifer Barker’s The Tactile Eye (2009) and Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space (1964).



Barker, J., 2009. The Tactile Eye, Touch and the Cinematic Experience. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Marks, L., 2000. The Skin of the Film, Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Bachelard, G., 1964. The Poetics of Space. Translated from French by M. Jolas. Boston: Beacon Press.