Living in the Pluriverse: Animation Philosophy and Experiments in Cosmotechnics

Deborah Levitt (The New School)

Understanding lives as media forms and media as life forms opens a way to address the actual state of emergency of our times: how to enable pluralism and promote ecological regeneration in the milieu of planetary computing. In this talk, I counterpose “the world” as it has served as a fundamental reference point for a tendency in film theory, often grounding claims of representational fidelity and ethical vocation, to the multiplicity of worlds rendered in the pluriverse of animation. If for the former life functioned as an ontological problematic—what is life? what is death?—the latter compels us to think life in relation to world. Or, more precisely, lives in relation to worlds. In this view, life and world are co-emergent in each case, informed by the technical, material, and ethical procedures that constitute their milieux. The multiple ontologies of animated worlds enable us to imagine and experience vitality and liveliness as different types of qualities differently distributed across a world’s elements: figures, grounds, scales, rhythms, etc. Drawing on these animatic features, I describe how emerging media allow us to use world making to model various cosmotechnical life-worlds, and pose the question of how we might put these to work to render diverse and convivial futures.

Deborah Levitt is Assistant Professor of Culture & Media Studies at The New School, in New York City. She is the author of The Animatic Apparatus: Animation, Vitality, and the Futures of the Image (Zero Books, 2018), and co-editor of Acting and Performance in Moving Image Culture: Bodies, Screens, and Renderings (Transcript Verlag, 2012). She has published articles and interviews in Public Seminar, Waking Life: Kino zwischen Technik und Leben, Inflexions: A Journal of Research-Creation, The Scholar and Feminist Online, The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory, and The Agamben Dictionary, among others.