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Anthropomorphism and puppetry

November 7, 2012


This morning I encountered a seductive blinking light at some roadworks … hmm, what is it that made that light so flirtatious?

Anthropomorphism is a dirty word in some puppetry circles because it is considered that humanising an object limits it, a puppet is more than an imitation human being.  And I agree whole-heartedly but it all depends on what you understand by anthropomorphising and how you use it.

To me, anthropomorphising doesn’t necessarily mean giving objects a head, eyes, arms and legs or making puppets gesticulate like a person.  If I see a car going by and imagine it to be sneaky, it is not gesturing but is probably moving in a stealthy rhythm.

Which reminds me of three cars I saw driving along the river bank.  Their steady speed made them “determined” and “concentrated” and the even distance between them made them a team.  They were three agents on an important mission.

I believe that exercising our anthropomorphic sensibilities teaches us a lot about expressive movement and actually helps to not over-humanise puppets.  

By playfully interpreting our surroundings in emotional terms we become familiar with how form, rhythm, space, grouping, colour and texture communicate and we gain more tools for bringing objects to life, even the human-looking ones with head, arms and legs.

And next time we turn a piece of paper into a puppet we won’t feel obliged to twist a head and arms into it to make it seductive.  Now what was it again that made that light so flirtatious?

One Comment

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  1. March 24, 2014

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I
    do think that you need to publish more on this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but generally people don’t talk about these issues.

    To the next! All the best!!


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