twohundredfiftysixcolors Flashes One GIF Too Many
One of the many GIFs in “twohundredfiftysixcolors” (screencapture from film clip)
Twitch until you puke…
If you’re going to explore the animated GIF as a medium, you should probably start with the question I have:
Why do these (mostly horrible) things still exist?
Seriously, I thought these things went out with Geocities and RealAudio. Or at least they should have. But, no, they came back (if they ever truly went away) and the Intertubes are covered and clogged with more of them than ever before. And it’s time for somebody to point out that these things aren’t artistic or expressive—they’re really just fucking annoying. Take, for a prime example, the twitching rock above. There’s no reason for that photo to move other than to make you feel irritated and generally unpleasant, like you’re the victim of some kind of geeky, hipster voodoo curse.
The point is that we can do better than this now. For instance, the Internet can show videos and it’s been able to do so for several years. At this point, you can even stream video online in full 1080p high-definition. Just because some people choose to keep flogging the dead horse of an antiquated motion graphics format based on whatever motivation they might have (Contrarianism? Spite? To look cute?) doesn’t mean that our ever vigilant cultural gatekeepers—our beloved, status-conferring museums, galleries, and curators—have to follow them and grant them full-fledged, international art world-sized encouragement. Just because something is online doesn’t mean that it’s good. After all, nobody is excavating those aforementioned old Geocities pages and exhibiting them, are they? Where, I ask you, is the Museum of MIDI Files when you need one?
If something needs to move, then, by all means, have it move, but let it move naturally. Like it wants to. Nothing wants to endlessly quiver in your face and be obnoxious. That rock, even in its besmirched, graffitied form, deserves better. And so does the person who ends up having to look at it. Your hipster voodoo won’t work on me. I’m too old for this shit. We should all be too old for this shit.
Bottom line: if you want to create the illusion of movement in an archaic or decidedly retro and old-fashioned way, build a zoetrope. Those things were cool and are completely worthy of nostalgia. And let’s not forget about our oldest and dearest friends in the visual world, still images. People have liked them for years and, apparently, still do. They generally even look good on a screen.