Helix: An Animator’s animated brain recalls practice-based experimention.

University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles. USA.

25th Annual Conference of Animation Studies

23rd – 27th June 2013




I would like to present short extracts from my animated film entitled, Helix. This film was produced to visually illustrate connections between practice-based experiments as conducted in my work over many years. It engages with the difficulty of presenting this information as a linear narrative. This film illustrates how a narrative may necessarily be constructed to communicate iterative processes and phases of iteration that form the track of practice-based experimentation.

The short extracts I have chosen, illustrate different structures of thought and methods of recall that are accessible to the animator specifically within practice-based animation research. I have framed this within second order cybernetics and animation theory, deploying terms from Gregory Bateson’s Theory of Mind. The work illustrates shifts between mechanistic and emergent structures of thought engaged with in the process of theorising animation practice.

Helix is itself emergent and in continual evolution as it responds to new information revealed by current practice-theory exploration. This presentation does not seek to state what the animated brain is, only to represent a visualisation of my own thought processes in the theorising of the experimental animation practice. I present this as a starting point for discussion about the content of an Animators, animated brain.



Error and Trial: Accessing ‘tacit’ information embedded in practice through reenactment of the stopmotion animation prototype modelling process.

Royal College of Art, London. UK. 

Exploring the role of the body and embodied spectatorship in moving image and animation symposium.

18th may 2013




Sarra will introduce her practice-based Animation research and then, using concept models she produced for The Day Pilsen Struck Gold, will re-enact the process of ‘improvisation’, information acquisition and ‘trial and error’ methods.

She will demonstrate how ‘tacit’ information is embedded in craft-based commercial animation production.

This paper was expanded upon at SAS Conference, USC (2013), in which I discuss  ‘memory’ ‘information’ and my practice process in more detail.


Practice-based Research: Evaluating the relationship between Computer Generated 3D Animation and Material Craft Processes.

Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham. UK.

Research-Knowledge-Practice Lab

13th April 2012



This paper is intended to provide an example of how practice based research can be configured in a multi-media practice based research project. It is the intention to illustrate how research is conducted, recorded and evaluated at this point in the process. It discusses some of the challenges of delivering new knowledge for the purposes of replication and dissemination.

It is proposed that in drawing from critical methods already embedded in your own creative practice, a thread can be tracked back to identify a research methodology that satisfies the needs of the Academy and also works in amelioration with the artistic process.

The emerging methodology currently evolving within the practice-based project can best be illustrated as a double feedback loop. By deploying iterative and reflexive research methods, the production of film experiments act as the driver of the research progress. This model can be illustrated through the projects online secured Repository.

The Repository records the evolution of the research project and contains the body of research assets. It can be demonstrated that this depository acts as a reflexive journal with hyperlinks to a number of media sites, online research texts, journals, still images and other research resources, while also recording the iterative research cycle deployed in the process of producing short film experiments.

The maintenance of the depository is effective and works efficiently enough to allow sufficient time and space to allow the creative process to fully emerge and drive the project forward. It provides a sound structure that satisfies the requirement of the academy (that of generating original knowledge), as produced from a sound methodology. This will allow for subsequent replication and dissemination of new knowledge both in the intended research discipline and the wider research community.