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  • George Samuels

What is Cultural Animation?

Cultural animation was originally coined by Polish cultural theorist, Grzegorz Godlewski, as “identification, activation, dynamisation of particular sphere of cultural experience.” For our purposes, it will be defined as:

A way of preserving culture through the use of computer generated animation.

When looking at animation from an artistic viewpoint, animation is the ‘breath or illusion of life’.

According to Leszek Kolankiewicz, Director of the Institute of Polish Culture at Warsaw University, the “heart of animation is action,” and I agree.

Combining the social definition of action, with the artistic definition of the ‘breath or illusion of life,’ we could perhaps further define modern ‘cultural animation’ as:

A state of awakening and/or action within a culture or community, invoked through computer graphics and multimedia.

As our world becomes more homogenised, it is becoming increasingly difficult to define ‘where you come from.’ Our heritage is still a mystery. It is not a clear-cut answer anymore.

I believe that knowing the stories and heritages of each of our ancestors will help strengthen, and deepen, our bond with the varied elements of our past. We are all mixed-race, and even indigenous to some land, to some extent, but we also all share a common story. A story that is split-up amongst the different cultures around the world, encoded in the fantastical myths and legends of our forefathers.

Cultural animation focuses specifically on stories that preserve culture through computer animation. It works particularly well with community-driven or culture-driven enterprises. I currently use it to preserve indigenous myths and legends because I believe these stories hold a lot of wisdom for future generations.

Cultural animation has the potential to bridge gaps, heal the past, and create compelling futures.

It should be noted though that there are two sides to cultural animation – the technical/digital side and the socio-cultural side. More on that later.