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Figuring the Invisible: Conventions and Tactics in Animation for Science Outreach


The research will identify and raise awareness about the audiovisual conventions and communication tactics of animation in multimedia science outreach, in respect to the representation of invisible objects (too big, too small, too far away in space and time).

The research is in the field of animated documentary, a major point in the Animation Studies agenda (Honess Roe, 2013). It is also based on the epistemology of scientific communication; as Daston and Galison argued (2007), «truth-to-nature» objectivity is being superseded by visuals balancing art and science. Merleau-Ponty (1964) had previously called for an equilibrium between objectivity and subjectivity in science outreach, due to the new “invisible” frontiers of knowledge.

The action will start with 12 months at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, whose excellence in visual research and its interdisciplinary environment will support the Researcher in: 1) building a list of animations in multimedia science outreach from 1980; 2) critically engaging the conventions and tactics from the point of view of animation theory, 3) of animators and 4) of scientists (in dialogue with the resident experts on data visualization).

The next 12 months will be hosted by the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Padova, Italy. With the collaboration of the Department of Information Engineering and the CICAP (the Italian committee for scientific skepticism), the results from the outgoing phase will be used to: a) create an open access database of multimedia science outreach about the “invisible”; b) set up educational actions; c) create a permanent committee to promote good practices in animation for science.

The Researcher will take advantage of his expertise in animation history and theory, his contacts with the industry and with animation schools, and his teaching experience. The research will consolidate his career and make him a mediator between academia, scientists, and filmmakers.


Net EU contribution
€ 207 609,60
Via 8 Febbraio 2
35122 Padova

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Nord-Est Veneto Padova
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
No data