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Ecstatic Truth 2024


Animation and Documentary in Times of Artificial Intelligence

FRIDAY 19TH APRIL 2024 – FROM 10H TO 18.30H
Cinema Fernando Lopes


Free Hybrid Event. Registration required.
<i>“Close up of little Nemo and Mickey Mouse, walking side by side with Lara Croft in Lisbon City”</i> (image generated in collaboration with
“Close up of little Nemo and Mickey Mouse, walking side by side with Lara Croft in Lisbon City” (image generated in collaboration with
Time Event
09h30 Registration. Refreshments provided.
10h00 Welcome and introduction.
10h05 KEYNOTE: Alan Warburton: “The making of The Wizard of AI”, followed by Q&A.
11h00 Coffee break

Panel 1, followed by Q&A

Time Event
11h15 Nicholas Lewis: “An Analysis of the Potential Use of AI in 2D Animation for Education”;
11h35 Virgilio Vasconcelos: “Existing with and re-existing against AI animation: a pharmacological approach towards changing technical landscapes”;
11h55 Daniele Grosso: “A Phantom World: AI Image Generation and the Philosophy of Günther Anders”.
Time Event
12h30 Lunch
13h50 Book launch: Perspectives on Portuguese Animation, with Cristina Novo and Pedro Serrazina.

Panel 2, followed by Q&A

Time Event
14h00 Victoria Wolfersberger “Brosch’s AI Dreams – Between Vision and Decline”;
14h20 Julia Eckel: “Documenting Amateur AI Animation”;
14h40 Alexander Gerner “Performative Truth of GenAI images – image forensics and the problematizing of the historical index in the age of GenAI”.

Panel 3, followed by Q&A

Time Event
15h20 Nea Ehrlich: “Animation and Digital Veracity: AI, Deepfakes, GUI, Glitch and Blackboxing”;
15h40 Andy Buchanan “The End of the Pipeline – Feature Engineering in Animation Pre-production”.
Time Event
16h15 Coffee break
16h30 KEYNOTE: Dr. Mihaela Mihailova: “Delimited Animation: the ethics and aesthetic of erasure in AI-generated media”, followed by Q&A.
17h30 MASTERCLASS: Luca Tarantini: “AOK – inventing the AI workflow for feature films”, followed by Q&A.
18h20 Closing comments.


Alan Warburton

The making of The Wizard of AI

Morning Keynote Presenter – in person.


In this presentation I will discuss the process of making The Wizard of AI (2023, 19’ 19”, commissioned by the Open Data Institute) including research, scripting, collaboration, concept development, technical processes and release. Positioning the work in relation to computer graphics, documentary filmmaking, video essays and experimental animation, I’ll focus primarily on the role of creative labour in the current (and near future) ecosystems of AI production. Contrasting my real experience of creative labour with the corporate technopolitics of AI disruption, I’ll consider how working with rapidly changing and ethically challenging AI tools produces a particular kind of worker and a particular kind of work, defined by unique sociotechnical and temporal factors.


Alan Warburton is an artist, animator, video essayist and scholar working with CGI, AI, VR, AR, installation and sculpture. Over the last decade he has had over a million views of his animated films, going (semi) viral with his critical video essays about AI, computer graphics and visual culture. Alan is currently completing a PhD at Birkbeck’s Vasari Centre in London. He has been commissioned by the BBC, Open Data Institute, Tate Exchange, Photographers Gallery and Channel 4, exhibited work at Club Transmediale, Ars Electronica, National Gallery of Australia and had residencies and lectures at the V&A, Somerset House, Carnegie Mellon and the Architecture Association School.

Mihaela Mihailova

Delimited Animation: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Erasure in AI-Generated Media

End of the day Keynote Presenter – live on Zoom from the city of San Francisco, USA


This presentation pushes against the seemingly self-evident notion of synthetic media as generative. It examines the various forms of concealment and acts of removal perpetuated by AI-assisted production processes, including the erasure of creative labour and authorship, the misrepresentation of marginalized and commodified identities, and the attempted bypassing of traditional filmmaking principles. At the same time, this talk explores the emerging aesthetics of AI-generated art, including animated shorts and music videos, deepfake films, ads, and art projects, and documentaries featuring synthetic footage. Born of algorithmization and its discontents, such works frequently display visible imperfections, erratic fluctuations, and a tendency to go with the flaw – a phenomenon I call delimited animation.


Mihaela Mihailova is an Assistant Professor in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University. She is the editor of Coraline: A Closer Look at Studio LAIKA’s Stop-Motion Witchcraft (Bloomsbury, 2021). She has published in Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, The Velvet Light Trap, Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Feminist Media Studies, animation: an interdisciplinary journal, Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema, [in]Transition, Flow, and Kino Kultura. She has also contributed chapters to Animating Film Theory (with John MacKay), Animated Landscapes: History, Form, and Function, The Animation Studies Reader, and Drawn from Life: Issues and Themes in Animated Documentary Cinema. Dr. Mihailova serves as editor of the open-access journal Animation Studies ( and as president of the Society for Animation Studies. Her current book project, Synthetic Creativity: Deepfakes in Contemporary Media, was recently awarded an NEH grant.

Luca Tarantini

AOK – Inventing the AI Workflow for Feature Films

End of the day Masterclass – live on Zoom from the Canadian city of Toronto


This presentation unveils the captivating journey behind media production company AOK creating 40 minutes of AI-assisted animation for a feature documentary film, starting with the innovative proposal to use AI to animate over live-action footage. Presenter Luca Tarantini and his team embarked on an explorative process that combined new technologies like Ebsynth and Stable Diffusion with sophisticated motion capture techniques, traditional vfx compositing, and lots of trial and error, leading to a unique visual style marked by texture and impressionism. The collaborative effort and technical ingenuity culminated in a visually stunning animated film that is premiering at film festivals around the world, a world-first showcasing the potential of traditional filmmaking combined so closely with AI technology.


Luca Tarantini is a self-taught animator and professional media artist working in film, documentary, animation, and visual effects. He founded the media production company AOK, a steadily growing family of filmmakers and visual innovators. AOK’s work often employs experimental processes and workflows that are praised for their unique and visually striking results. He is based out of Toronto, Ontario.


Ecstatic Truth is an annual symposium on animated documentary founded in 2016 that explores issues arising from the interface between notions of animation and of documentary (conceptualised very broadly as non-fiction), with a particular interest in questions raised by experimental and practitioner perspectives.

Join us in Lisbon for a symposium that promises to explore the frontiers of animation, documentary, and artificial intelligence. We look forward to engaging in vibrant discussions, sharing insights, and advancing our understanding of “Animation in Times of Artificial Intelligence”.

“This comprehensive call for papers [has been created by AI and hopefully it] should highlight the symposium’s theme, key topics of interest, submission guidelines, and important dates, offering a clear and engaging invitation to potential contributors.

Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Organizing Commitee

Pedro Serrazina

Pedro Serrazina is an award-winning director, senior lecturer and animation researcher. His first short, “Tale about the cat and the moon”, premiered internationally at the Cannes Film Festival ‘96 and, part of the Portuguese National Cinema Plan, is still regularly screened in international retrospectives and festivals. His work has been exhibited and published internationally, ranging from film, site-specific installations, to music videos and academic projects.

Serrazina is interested in the interconnections between architecture, public space, documentary and animation, and his practice-based PhD was dedicated to the use of animated space as a tool to reflect on social space.

He is currently co-writing a book on Portuguese Animation for Taylor and Francis, is a member of the editorial board of the “Animation Practice, Process and Production” journal, publishes regularly, and was editor of the IJFMA journal special editions “Animated Space: engaged animation for the space(s) we live in” and “Truth of Matter: process and perception in expanded animation practice”.

A member of the Society for Animation Studies and the Ecstatic Truth scientific board, Serrazina was the artistic director of the 45th edition of Cinanima Festival, and is currently working on his next film, a documentary feature entitled “What remains of us”.

Natalie Woolf

Natalie Woolf is an artist/researcher/professor and innovator. Woolf originally trained in Fine Arts, then set up her own design practice for surface products, being commissioned for site-specific installations and exhibiting internationally with the Crafts Council UK and USA, several years at 100% Design UK and Italy, and having group and solo shows in the UK, Japan and Switzerland.

Her PhD from the Royal College of Art (London) was recognised with a patent and exhibited at InnovationRCA and the British Inventors awards at the Barbican, London, leading her design practice for interior and exterior surfaces into animated and responsive technologies.

She has carried out commissioned works and extensive studies for the implementation of arts’ practice in the public domain, for public and private consortiums. Working in this area reflects a strong interest in location, community and site specific interventions, and influenced her fine art practice with a sensitivity to natural and unnatural ecologies looking for ways to expand on and express our located histories and sensory experience through visual means.

Woolf is a senior lecturer and integrated researcher at Lusófona University, in Lisbon, participating as a practitioner and author in publications and academic events. She is a co-curator for the Drawing programs at DELLI, Design Lusófona, and teaches various subjects exploring drawing in expanded fields and modes of research, within the Design and Animation BA and MA courses. She currently lives and works in Lisbon, where she is a permanent resident at Atelier Concorde.

Birgitta Hosea

Professor Birgitta Hosea is an artist and Director of the Animation Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts. She was previously Head of Animation at the Royal College of Art and prior to that at Central Saint Martins (where she completed her PhD). At both, she led audience engagement projects for organisations (including National Gallery, English National Opera, RSC, Old Operating Theatre Museum) in which animation was used to extend exhibition design and audiences. Her own expanded animation work has been exhibited internationally including ASIFAKEIL, Vienna; National Gallery X; Venice & Karachi Biennales; Oaxaca & Chengdu Museums of Contemporary Art; Hanmi Gallery, Seoul; Centre for Recent Drawing, London; Hunan Museum, China. Her accolades include collection in the Tate Britain and Centre d’Arte Contemporain, Paris, archives; an Adobe Impact Award; a MAMA Award for Holographic Arts; fellowship of the RSA; artist residencies in Azerbaijan, Ireland, Italy and Sweden. She has co-curated events and exhibitions for, amongst others, Adobe, Ars Electronica and Guizhou Provincial Museum, China: Fission (2022), featured 44 international digital artists reaching 250,000 people.

Commencing with technical research for Adobe as software BETA tester, Birgitta’s funded research includes Sensory Spaces, developing tactile, VR sculpture software for StoryFutures (2020) and Future Transport 2030, animated visualisation of Synaptic Transport (EU R&I) with Bartlett School of Planning, UCL (2013). She is currently leading on feminist AI research with City University of London in which hand drawing is used with Generative Adversarial Networks to visualize statistics on domestic violence through animation. Her writing has featured in publications such as Animation Interdisciplinary; The Crafty Animator; Experimental and Expanded Animation;  Experimental Animation: From Analogue to Digital; Animating the Spirited; Animated Landscapes; and Expanded animation with her most recent book being Performance Drawing: New Practices Since 1945 (Bloomsbury, 2020) co-written with Foá, Grisewood and McCall.

Tereza Stehlikova

Dr. Tereza Stehlikova is a Czech/British artist and educator. Her practice spans moving image, participatory performance and is driven by cross-disciplinary collaboration. She holds a PhD from the Royal College of Art, London, where she researched tactile language of moving image. She has been a senior lecturer at University of Westminster for 15 years, as well as a research co-ordinator and PhD supervisor at the RCA. She is currently the head of visual arts department at Vysoká Škola Kreativní Komunikace, Prague and also teaches artistic research methods to PhD students at AMU (Academy of Performing Arts) and FAMU (Film Academy), Prague, and international MA students at UMPRUM (Academy of Art, Architecture and Design), Prague.

Stehlikova is engaged in artistic research, focused on investigating the role our senses and embodiment play in conveying meaning through artistic practice. In particular, she is exploring how moving image can be used to communicate embodied experience and multi-sensory impressions. Stehlikova’s ongoing long-term artist film project, 4 Generations of Women has, amongst other things, been Shortlisted for BFI 61st London Film Festival Experimenta pitch, exhibited in a solo exhibition at Alchemy Film and Art Festival, in Hawick, 2019. Her other ongoing project, Disappearing Wormwood, has been premiered at the Whitechapel Gallery, London in January 2020. Other recent screenings include Stadtkino, Vienna, Austria, Anfilm international festival 2022, CZ, Efea 2022: experimental film festival, Norwich, UK. Her most recent solo exhibitions are Ophelia in Exile, at the Vitrinka Gallery, Czech Centre London, 2021-22, and Familial Traces, 2023 at Sternstudio Gallery, Vienna. Stehlikova’s latest project, The Infra-ordinary Lab, was selected for Prague Quadrennial Festival 2023.

Stehlikova founded and now edits an online arts journal/platform Tangible Territory, featuring essays and articles by established artists/authors from the world of arts, science, philosophy, all centred around the role our senses play in creating meaning in art and life. Stehlikova regularly presents her research at international conferences and her films and performances have been shown at a variety of film and art festivals around the world. She is also a co-founder of Ecstatic Truth symposium.


CALL FOR PAPERS is now closed

An AI Call For Papers

The 8th edition of Ecstatic Truth will be dedicated to the impact of AI in image making, animation and documentary processes.

To fully immerse us into the context, we worked with an AI interface to produce this year’s Call For Papers: we used a previous description of the Ecstatic Truth symposium framework and had it “improved” by AI; we gave AI the general topics that concern us and would like to address and, through an interesting “dialogue”, came to the following result. The text below is the result of that interaction, between the Ecstatic Truth team and AI. If this is the future, we may face it sooner rather than later:

Animation and Documentary in Times of Artificial Intelligence – CALL FOR PAPERS

“In a world where any image can be artificially generated, questions abound regarding the evolving role of the animator and the definition of the animated image in contemporary filmmaking. Furthermore, how do we navigate the discourse surrounding documentary, especially animation documentary, in the age of AI? Are we witnessing the gradual replacement of the animator by AI? Is AI-driven animation merely an escape from reality, or can it be harnessed to address pressing societal issues? How can animation, especially in the documentary context, grapple with the veracity of the image and the challenges posed by deepfake technology? How do we navigate notions of truth and authenticity in the digital age?

This symposium, guided by an intersectional perspective, seeks to explore the profound impact of AI and digital manipulation on our understanding of the human experience and the possibilities for alternate realities. Just as colonialism disrupted local and indigenous knowledge systems, AI challenges our perceptions of reality and truth. How can we articulate and navigate the complexities of AI’s influence on our visual culture and society? Can animation, in its various forms, liberate us from the distorted realities created by artificial intelligence? We invite and encourage discussions on form, strategy, and the ethical considerations surrounding AI-generated imagery in our quest to explore “Animation in times of Artificial Intelligence.”

Call for Papers

The “Animation and Documentary in Times of Artificial Intelligence Symposium” invites scholars, filmmakers, animators, and artists to submit papers and proposals that delve into the multifaceted realm of animation in the age of artificial intelligence. We welcome contributions that explore but are not limited to the following themes:

  • The evolving role of the animator in the context of AI.
  • The definition and significance of the animated image in contemporary filmmaking.
  • Documentary practices and animation in the era of AI.
  • The ethical implications of AI-driven animation and deepfake technology.
  • Narratives and storytelling in AI-generated animation.
  • The challenges and opportunities presented by AI in animation production.
  • The impact of AI on the veracity of the image in documentary practices.
  • Discussions on the intersection of truth, authenticity, and AI in the digital age.
  • Case studies, artistic projects, and innovative approaches related to animation and AI.

Submission Guidelines

We call for papers, presentations and responses on our themes, in all its different manifestations, in relation to non-fiction manipulated moving image and animated documentary, in their most expanded forms.

If the paper is practice-based, it should include reflection and contextualisation in addition to presenting the practice. We will not accept papers that propose to show the practice only.

Submission link

You will be prompted to create a free account with Oxford Abstracts.

Important Dates

  • Abstract Submission Deadline: 23-02-2024
  • Notification of Acceptance: 08-03-2024
  • Symposium Date: 19-04-2024


All questions about submissions should be emailed to