Building social emotional communities through Animation: connecting ideas and creative people

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We live in a visual culture with more devices than ever to “keep in touch” but getting more isolated and feeling “disconnected” from each other, because of distractions, stress, and basically lack of focus and poor emotional self-management. This can affect our work and vice versa, for which relationships, connectedness are crucial to collaborate and enrich our work experiences as well as to keep our emotional balance for an optimal decision making. Animation and visual literacy can help us to develop more productive environments and become more creative by enhancing values as tolerance, empathy and learning by playing, incorporating emotional intelligence. Currently we have more products and easy access to experience audiovisual productions, thanks to the emerging pop culture of apps and games besides the traditional films. We can use animation as a media to build social emotional companies and schools, where they can explore from freedom new possibilities to keep innovating life not just at work but also in our homes.
In times of crisis or extreme situations, as we have been lately experiencing, companies, entrepreneurs, scholars etc. start to look for a bright solution, the light at the end of the tunnel, the genius mind, the formula which will rescue us and tell us how to resolve our problems. We become more creative than ever at the face of change, when we are pushed to the limit, almost desperate; but the truth is, change is always constant and we should start to learn and teach to be resilient and more cooperative in daily basis before finding ourselves at our wit´s end.
To make this possible and accessible to everybody, we propose animation as an emotional media to teach and/or incorporate visual literacy at schools as we learn language and writing among other subjects.
Experts from neurosciences and educational fields such as, Richard Davidson (Winsconsin University) Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) Dan Siegel (Mindfulness Institute-US), show in their studies how effective these attitudes are in order to improve learning, attention and even rewiring our brain for a better self.
Before addressing how animation makes this possible, let’s take some definitions of creativity ,animation and connectivity to set up a common ground within a more social open context rather than just artistic, and see how they can relate to each other:
-Creativity :1. -the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others; 2.the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness-.3 any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one...What counts is whether the novelty he or she produces is accepted for inclusion in the domain.-.
-Connectivity: the ability of a computer, program, device, or system to connect with one or more others.
- Animation, beyond technicalities, it’s the illusion of life, getting something alive with what I like to refer as - “the self expression of emotional energy in motion from an internal reflection “. A visual feeling and thinking media.
Through animation we can learn to communicate not just our own feelings, ideas, but get to know the self, as well as we learn from other peoples impressions helping us to connect with each other; completing a circle of knowledge exchange, increasing creativity and connectedness during the working process, at the same time that we create a productive space for discussions, which is difficult to find in companies where people are normally tense, afraid to talk or suggest ideas.
At the Animated Learning Lab we use Animation as a potential set of techniques to enhance creativity and connectivity among other values which methology looks like : First- learn to observe; second, understand what we see and how this information affect us, including our body and brains; and third, learn a way to express that reflection . We give workshops and develop curriculums to teach, students, teachers and eager learners to develop a critical open mind set in order to communicate better, by emphasizing freedom and playfulness to experiment and work attitudes such as compassion, tolerance and understanding. We put it in practice working in small groups producing a little animated film with a common goal which we pick together. Differing techniques or aesthetic aspects of the final product, we focus on the process of creation from a relax status of body-mind where empathy increases, and respect are present. Animation engages body (sensations) and mind (belief system), bringing the unconscious to consciousness in a big playground where you can cross the line and experiment with the impossible, thinking “out of the box” .
Creativity is not just associated to arts, it’s an attitude/process than can be learnt, trained and practice through animation, which success resides in its potential and diversity during production. In animation you find drawing, thinking, writing, the use of music, visual effects…etc. we can explore endless possibilities and approaches to different problem solving within a work team; cooperating , experimenting democracy, respecting opinions, articulating what words sometimes can’t do as the body expresses what the mind in occasions shouts up; building new worlds as a “game/play”, where we all may enter in the “flow” as Csikszentmihalyi has defined, finding the joy to play again as children, without pressure, where freedom become the biggest asset to dream and expand our minds, discovering that novelty and keep reinventing ourselves as our environments, from inside to outside, growing together.
The results of watching*, making movies, proves how animation, visual literacy are so relevant in the production of movies, video games at the same time that by watching or playing those games or movies, connectivity increases and a sense of community is felt as indeed happens with some of the most famous video games as World Craft, Candy craft, etc.

Kathy Alitieri, a production designer from Dreamworks, as many other creative business minds, knows the importance to give people security to feel safe and encourage them to be their best selves and grow, She said: "I'd much rather have someone reach and fail and reach again and fail again than just have someone follow what I think is right. They usually don't fail. They figure it out and they grow."
I would like to refer to Ed Catmul, current president of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He is very aware of the importance of failing, learn from mistakes, take risks, providing constructive critiques in their famous “daily meetings”, creating a supportive safe environment where employees trust and respect each other (Pixar’s brain trust). No place to egos, creativity is a group task, a diverse group of different talents where everybody equally has a voice to speak up to discuss and expose issues. As a result you get a true sense of community which shares ideas. I believe when He said : If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they’ll screw it up. But if you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they’ll make it work-.
Our point with this is to show that such a compendium of strategies happening within the animation industry, and understanding that making animation can trigger those same strategies, can be applied to any field of any specialty, in the end we’re talking about a productive business: to work, create and know how to direct, encourage people not just to do their jobs, but to be passionate about it and go beyond barriers to discover new things, coping with changes and challenges. The formula is simple, although not easy to put in practice: happier people, more efficient business, all depends on how the connections are made.
To conclude:
- Creativity is an attitude-process group task for arts, sciences and technology interlacing together.
- Every day Animation influences more our lifes through movies and games, so our brains and way of thinking; we learn from stories and by playing.
-Working with animation can help us to rewire our brain into our best self as long as we have the curiosity and desire, then, only then, it’s the “right timing” to take action and become creative by connecting with others, whatever your fieldwork or background is. Because everybody can do it, plus, everything is possible in animation.
-Animation can be a tool to learn social skills, apply social emotional learning to improve communication and create new creative mind sets due to the use of affective-cognitive neurosciences as we see more and more scientist are interested in how film making, visual literacy use emotions to bring us experiences not just in the cinemas or ipads but in classrooms to inspire us and keep learning, dreaming. That’s the magic: creating illusions, making you feel.
There may be new incoming approaches which can help us to be more creative, its time to explore and be more connected to each other, collaborate to blend sciences and arts with a deeper understanding of the emotional world, where I believe, it is the key to build social emotional communities.
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 2015


  • animation