Tonight I had the pleasure of hearing Neal Gabler talk about the life and times of Walt Disney and his animation career. Gabler has recently published a biography on Disney, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. During his talk he described the artistic pursuits of Mr. Disney, how it was never about the money for him but about the goal of realism. This, he claims, explains why Walt was always on the verge of bankruptcy, if not there completely. It is truly an inspiring story about one man’s pursuit for the ultimate achievement in animation, to make it real.
But I am not writing about my childhood hero to talk about is inspiring nature. I am brining him up to talk about his artistic attributes. Does Walt’s creations stand as art? It can be very easy to say yes, but also very easy to say no. Yes, they represent artistic achievement in that their goal is for the creation of art, that object that has no other primary function but to interact with us on a purely aesthetic level. But also they are challenging in that they push the medium, that of a hybrid between film and painting/drawing, to its limits, to the fringes of its capabilities where it becomes truly a hybrid with film and later, speaking of today’s animation, a hybrid with technology itself.
But it also is not art in that its goal was not to challenge society. He wanted those same renaissance creations, just with the addition of movement. What he was doing was not expanding the ideas of aesthetics but rather limiting them to that which is expected, that which we see in a linear fashion. And it wasn’t for a long time before animation was freed from its linearly established reflection of reality.
But I don’t think I agree with this either. I would like now to connect to an older post of mine, First step towards... Here I described art not as an object but as an interaction. With this much freer definition I believe one like myself can easily call the experience I had with the Disney cartoons and theme parks as artistic. So with that being said I open it up to further comments and criticism. But for myself Disney remains an inspiration of mine and an artist/imagineer/entrepreneur I aspire to be.