La Boîte à Oeufs simple translates to ‘The Egg Box’. My first creative artefact was the link humans create between emotions and inanimate objects and how this affects us mentally and emotionally with the help of the media industry. Through my own piece I wanted to express how as humans we anthropomorphize objects to give ourselves purpose, to give something a moral care value and worth consideration (Gray et al., 2007). It’s a basic human instinct to want to care about something even if it’s not considered ‘human’ or ‘alive’. Why is this important in relation to the media industry?
According to a study held by IPA databank, which contains 1,400 case studies about successful campaigns and advertisements – those that had purely emotional content performed twice as well to those that didn’t. That’s 31% vs 16%. Emotions play a massive part in how, as consumers, we function. There’s always going to be that advert we remember for the way it made us feel. How a sad scene will have a melancholy piano playing over the top or how a party scene will have upbeat ‘happy’ music. The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science say the most memorable videos are the ones that provoke these emotions within us whether they are positive or negative. Thoughts are things but feelings are bigger things, mood overtakes any thought and as an audience when we watch something with emotional content involved it’s clear we feel before we have any rational understanding. Take the Christmas adverts that appear every year, John Lewis are known for their very heart string tugging content and personally I have shed a tear or two at the Snowman advert…
When the topic of food was announced I remembered my first real emotional attachment to something that wasn’t ‘real’. The band Blur created a music video for their widely popular song “Coffee and TV” with the story of two milk cartons in search of something. Having facial features, arms and legs you form a humane bond and are routing for the milk carton to find what he’s looking for to ultimately go through trauma and heartbreak. However ridiculous it sounds it’s a very valid example of anthropomorphizing. There have been a lot of examples of this in films, Sausage Party (2016) a rather controversial film but nonetheless a prime example of forcing feelings onto inanimate objects. Actor Seth Rogan summed it up, as “People like to project their emotions on to the things around them – their toys, their cars, their pets,” …“That’s what Pixar’s done for the last 20 years. So we thought: ‘what would it be like if our food had feelings?’ We very quickly realized that it would be fucked up.” I wanted to use a mix of both live action and stop motion filming in my artefact; I wanted to show the journey from the egg box to the frying pan.
My primary research was to re-watch as many films as possible to understand the way these emotions form, which turned out to be quite pleasant as my prime targets we’re the creators at Pixar. Pixar are well known for creating films that project human attributes onto inhumane things – such as Finding Nemo (2003) the tale of a fish in search of his missing son and bumping into vegetarian sharks a long the way “fish are friends not food” ring any bells? Whilst watching with friends I posed the questions “why do you feel this attached to a fish when you eat fish?” and everyone agreed that they felt an emotional attachment to them, their voices, personalities, actions and goals reminded them of themselves. I then realised humans are ultimately very susceptible to being manipulated and controlled by ‘cute’ animated fish and umbrellas. (The Blue Umbrella (2013) short by Pixar). Disney is also well known for amplifying emotions with animation well through things such as colour and the weather. The way characters have sadness evoked in their stories through the power of changing the weather to emanate their mood (pathetic fallacy) from sunshine to rain will manipulate the audience to feel that emotion with the character. If there is a happy scene the colours will be bright and encouraging whereas the sad scenes will be grey and dull. As we all know in real life this isn’t all the case and this is why animation and giving characters and objects humanlike qualities will always have a more powerful reaction with the audience – the ability to manipulate and make us feel something when it’s not happened to us or when the character is a cartoon and not even real. Ironically, the film Ratatouille (2007) as an audience we are encourage to feel connected to what, as humans, we would look at in disgust in real life but in animation we want him to achieve his dreams and the idea of him being in the kitchen cooking doesn’t make us feel sick but makes us happy he is there doing what he wants.
Harvard and Chicago psychologists found that three primary factors, elicited knowledge, sociality motivation and effectance motivation appear to account for a significant amount of variability in Anthropomorphism. The first meaning basic motivation for some sort of social connection, if someone lacks social connections with other humans this could bring forth the search for a connection with other agents, creating humanlike agents of social support. One extreme case of this would be Erika La Tour Eiffel; which if you can’t guess by the name, she fell in love and married the Eiffel Tower. There are only 40 people known in the world who have declared themselves Objectum-Sexual and all 40 of them are women. In film context the movie “Her” (2014) is a good example of anthropomorphism in film; where the protagonist falls n love with his computer system ultimately leaving him in heartbreak as they say their goodbyes. In conjunction with this, some states in America have a law that requires the woman to have an ultrasound to view the foetus before an abortion – which has provoked much criticism as to this act ‘humanising’ the foetus before it is born.
Which brings to light the process of dehumanization, whereby people treat human agents as animals or objects denying them the human-essentials such as thoughts and emotions. Masochists would argue that what is suppose to be good feel good, but instead what is bad feels good instead. The world is covered in people, but looking closer today it is filled with humanlike agents from pets that can seem considerate and caring to computers that seem to have a mind of their own. As humans we show an impressive capacity to humanise everything. Asking invisible Gods for forgiveness, talking to plants and toys, kissing dice to increase our chances of striking lucky and dressing up our pets in unnecessary outfits. Anthropomorphism is part of a multibillion-dollar industry such as robotics and animal care. Epley (2007) found that lonely people are more likely to anthropomorphise as they use it as a coping mechanism to handle social isolation, these are the people who find it easier to connect to Gods, talk to animals or believe gadgets have a “mind of their own” according to personality questionnaires.
With this insight I began to look into mediums to portray my somewhat animated short. When looking into different styles of filming stop motion was the first thing that came to mind when thinking of humanising inanimate objects. Look at Wallace and Gromet and Willis O’Brien’s “The Lost World”. Persistence of vision works when the human eye and brain can only process 10-12 images per second (roughly one twenty-fifth of a second) this comes into play with stop motion animation one of the earliest examples of this was Edward Muybridge’s ‘Running Horse’. As many know Thomas Edison created the light bulb but he also was one of the pioneers in stop animation with his work “Fun in a Bakery Shop” But it wasn’t till mathematician William George Horner created the Daedalum, which brought motion to still images opening up endless possibilities for others to take advantage of. Although animation is now very much CGI incorporated companies such as Aardman Animations still create stop motion masterpieces along with Tim Burton for his works ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993) and ‘Corpse Bride’ (2005).
Stop animation works well with my creative artefact as it brings forth the entire element of anthropomorphism – it’s a film technique that has been around as early as the birth of film itself, giving objects life. To tell a story from a different perspective and to add emotion; animation has always had the ability to induce human emotion more than live action films; this is why Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks are always so successful. Animation creates elegance and beauty in unnatural elements – they give the audience strong emotions of thrill, adventure, heartbreak and happiness everything is exaggerated and as a race in the constant search for perfection and euphoria animation gives us a taste of this. A wonderful example of a stop animation being “the most human movie…and it doesn’t star a single human” as described by Esquire’s Matt Patches is the film “Anamolisa” (2015) created by Charlie Kaufman the imagination behind another cult classic “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004) a wonderful film about what is means to be human and to feel human ironically without any humans on screen.
In context to where my creative artefact “sits” as a piece of media, stop motion animation and anthropomorphism will be very much involved in future productions. My understanding of anthropomorphism and the stop motion industry has expanded hugely – when first researching and trying to understand it made me realise that almost every piece of media is fuelled around emotion and channelling our human perceptions onto characters that may or may not be real. Although, like preciously mentioned, stop motion animation is somewhat out-dated animation itself is forever evolving and thriving and will continue to do so for many years to come.
The creation of La Boîte à Oeufs has enlightened my learning on different styles and genres and how as humans we are able to create almost anything through emotion and humanisation. Having been someone who has never dabbled in stop animation before, not to this extent, I have found a new love for the time and effort put into animated projects. Ways to improve would be to have control over lighting and how important it is to creating a convincing stop animation that doesn’t look intentionally ‘fake’ purely for the emotional attachment element. La Boîte à Oeuf could be developed in such a way that it could be used experimentally for audiences to understand a deepen level of connections and what it means to connect with one another and objects – why we do this etc. The way I ended my short was darker than the audience expected it to be, but it also added that level of humour, which could reflect us dehumanising the humanised objects – laughing at the demise of two infatuated eggs. Ultimately, I enjoyed developing this creative artefact and unveiling the psychological aspects in controlling audience’s emotions in media.
“A Brief History Of Stop Motion Animation”. Stopmotioncentral.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
“Animated Works: Ability To Induce Strong Emotions | The Artifice”. The-artifice.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
“‘Anomalisa’: Emotions More Profound In Stop Motion”. Chicago Sun-Times. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
“Anthropomorphism: Why We Treat Objects Like People”. psuec. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
“Fun In A Bakery Shop”. The Library of Congress. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
“Persistence Of Vision: How Does Animation Work? – Explore Animation – National Film And Television School”. FutureLearn. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Simpson, Aislinn. “Woman With Objects Fetish Marries Eiffel Tower”. Telegraph.co.uk. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Smith, Nigel. “Seth Rogen’s Animated Film Sausage Party Is Provocative Food For Thought”. the Guardian. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
“The Science Of Emotion In Marketing: How To Leverage Our Feelings”. Social. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
“Thoughts Or Feelings? Which Comes First? – The Applied Neuroscience Blog”. The Applied Neuroscience Blog. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Waytz, Adam, Nicholas Epley, and John T.Cacioppo. Social Cognition Unbound: Insights Into Anthropomorphism And Dehumanization. 1st ed. 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
“Why Do We Anthropomorphize? | Psych Central News”. Psych Central News. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.