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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 47, Issue 1/2, 2019

Approaches in Tartu Semiotics

Jason Mario Dydynski, Nelly Maekivi
Pages 205-233

Darwin’s antithesis revisited – a zoosemiotic perspective on expressing emotions in animals and animal cartoon characters

In the animation and design of cartoon characters, animators have often turned to the study of biological theories and observation of human actors and animals to capture lifelike movements and emotions more successfully. Charles Darwin’s principle of antithesis, as one of the principles he considered to be responsible for the expression of emotions in animals, would seem to be of distinctive importance in the development of animation. By revisiting Darwin’s original idea in the context of the principles of animation formulated by Thomas and Johnston, we are able to assess its application and relevance in the expressions of emotions in cartoon animal characters. The article concentrates on the emotive function of animal social communication as outlined in zoosemiotics, while taking into account that the expressions of animal characters are directed at the viewer. The principle of antithesis, as a descriptive tool, aids us in considering the diversity of modalities used simultaneously in affective communication, and serves to explicate human interpretations of the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic projections onto the behaviour of cartoon animal characters. This paper offers insight into the potential expansion and re-evaluation of unattested principles in animation, which can be utilized by animators in the creation of more dynamic and expressive animated characters.

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