In visible hands: the work of stop motion | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2042-7875
  • E-ISSN: 2042-7883


This essay puts artists, historians and theorists into conversation with each other in the context of an examination of stop-motion work process. Stop-motion film-makers frequently blur the boundaries between work and play as they practise their painstakingly labour-intensive craft, and this essay considers how the work of the animator’s hands is evoked (in implicit and explicit ways) in two key examples of late-twentieth-century stop-motion film. Starting with Adam Smith’s metaphor of the ‘invisible hand’ as a figure for self-regulating tendencies within capitalism, and extending into far more critical re-examinations of the figure by C. Wright Mills, I discuss the visual culture of workplace efficiency analysis and its relationship to the history of stopmotion film. I focus in the remainder of the essay on representations of work process in Henry Selick’s Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and Peter Lord and David Sproxton’s Confessions of a Foyer Girl. I argue that these films’ contrasting considerations of work are enmeshed within ambivalent considerations of the political economy of cinematic production and distribution.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): art; craft; labour; play; stop motion; technology; work
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