This project explores early Russian and Soviet experiments in drawn and puppet animation, from the pre-cinema years through the pre-Revolutionary era to the early Soviet years, and places them in the context of scientific experiments designed to understand the human body's ability to rise above the ground, such as those of Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey, and the puppet animation of Aleksandr Shiryaev as well as the animated insects of Wladislaw Starewicz.
During the 1920s animation was shaped by the experiences of graphic artists and cartoonists. We explore movement in the animation of Nikolai Khodataev (animator and later as painter and sculptor); of Mikhail Tsekhanovsky (book illustrator, animator); and of Dziga Vertov (based on cartoonist Viktor Deni). The special effects in the trick films of Aleksandr Ptushko, Tsekhanovsky’s experiments with sound and music, and Pavel Mershin’s experiments with colour served to further underscore the disciplined, choreographed movement of bodies during the 1930s, shaping the discourse of Stalinist culture and of other totalitarian regimes.
The project will lead to the publication of an 80,000 word monograph on Russian animation of the first half of the twentieth century.