Paul Roquet:  ENCLOSURE 

Roquet-Tokyo Chronos still

Animation keeps spreading, and before you know it, you are surrounded. Since at least the turn of the century, scholars have pointed to animation’s shift from a discreet sibling of live action film to a ubiquitous means of moving imagery in an ever-wider variety of media environments. Suzanne Buchan called this a state of “pervasive animation” in her 2013 edited volume of the same name. Increasingly, however, animation isn’t just out there in the world, but responsive to the spatial position and perspective of each individual viewer. The three-dimensional rendered worlds of virtual reality and augmented reality surround users with animated forms pegged to their spatial orientation, adapting in real time to every slight turn of the head. Internet of Things devices, AI assistants, and other sensor-based media technologies similarly track a person’s movement and behavior through space and trigger context-sensitive actions in response. What these forms of spatial mediation produce isn’t just an animated environment, but an animation enclosure. Rather than see animation as a means of breathing independent life into objects, the enclosure perspective points instead to how animation is deployed as an environmental capsule for modulating the perceptual horizons and emotional responses of the human centered within. Animation becomes a way to wrap a person inside their own custom reality. No longer safely contained within 2D screens, animation can now creep up from behind, lurking in the distance or coming right up into the intimate space directly surrounding the body. Animation enclosure opens up a direct, real-time link between a person’s moment-to-moment perception and mechanisms of private data collection and processing often happening off-site somewhere in a corporate ‘cloud.’ The surrounding environment becomes animated through algorithmic circuits, encircling a person’s perception of the world. 

Paul Roquet is associate professor in the Comparative Media Studies / Writing section at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He theorizes the cultural politics embedded in mediated environments, focusing on the use of media technologies to shape the emotional and perceptual atmospheres of everyday life. His first book, Ambient Media: Japanese Atmospheres of Self (Minnesota, 2016), explored the use of music, video, film, and literature as forms of personal mood-regulation, theorizing what it means to treat ambient moods as a resource for self-care. His current work extends these concerns to virtual reality, augmented reality, and ubiquitous computing, examining how responsive computational environments enable new forms of perceptual capture and control. Roquet has also published a number of articles exploring the role of environmental emotion in experimental Japanese animation aesthetics. His research is rooted in a close analysis of how these media developments intersect with broader issues in contemporary Japanese culture and society. See http://proquet.mit.edu for more details