I was without much Internet access for a few days, so I ended up spending this morning catching up with some new David Byrne-related videos. Because you’re not really connected if you don’t know what David Byrne has been up to recently, at least as far as I’m concerned.
Aquatic Life (Other Than Fish):
Ward Kimball, Part 1:
And so, the secret is out. Long before I was a photography and art nerd, I was an animation nerd. I’d like to say that I lived in a world that was filled equally with classic Warner Bros. cartoons, the best of the Max Fleischer studio, some kind of hip, alternative weirdness, and older Disney animation, but, let’s face it, it was mostly Disney. Yes, the evil Monster Mouse™. Boo and hiss. In fact, for a long time, I figured that I really wanted to be an animator or a cartoonist, although my ultimate ambition was actually to run my own studio and form a multimedia entertainment empire. What an original idea, huh? Somehow, when I was a kid, this seemed like it would be pretty easy to do (or at least basically feasible) and didn’t seem nearly as distasteful to me as it would later on. I mean, the world needs another corporate conglomerate, right? But maybe mine would be different. Mine would be better. Sure, why not? So, while other kids were doing whatever it is that normal children do (Play sports? Have friends? I still don’t really know), I was plotting what was going to go in my theme park and resort complexes. It’s a terribly geeky, antisocial legacy that I’ve spent years trying to run away from, so I have no idea why I’m telling you, the faceless Tumblr dweller, about it.
Anyway, Ward Kimball was (and still is) easily my favorite of the old Disney animators. He’s certainly an easier figure for the present-day me to identify with than the ultra-conservative and somewhat stodgy, pedestrian persona of Walt Disney. Most of these drawings, images, and the other assorted ephemera yet to come are courtesy of a Tumblr blog called 365 Days of Ward Kimball, which was originally intended to both last 365 days and to tie in with a once-forthcoming biography of Kimball that’s been held up by the Disney corporation on some kind of flimsy, mysteriously corporate grounds. For one thing, I’m not aware that Ward Kimball ever knew Johnny Depp, so that’s probably the hold up right there, since nothing seems to come out of that place without his involvement. He is, after all, the Dean Jones of our generation, except that I think I’d still rather see Dean Jones.
This begins a series of posts where I feature some of the images, writings, and other errata posted by others that I have officially “liked” during my time here in the Tumblr-verse. As of now, I have a collection, if you will, of over 1,400 postings that I have liked, both from blogs that I regularly and currently follow, as well as from ones that I don’t. That’s a lot of those little heart icons—at least for me. I’m literally going to be working from the bottom to the top (of my pile of likes, that is) with these posts, categorizing them according to themes, specific artists, or creative mediums. This post’s theme is just the general one of painting. The captions will generally come directly from the original postings, except in cases where I know the information is obviously wrong (such as changing the name “Bondone di Giotto” to the correct Giotto di Bondone, in this case). Sometimes the blogs will be credited and linked to (usually in instances where the content is original to that blog, rather than being posts or reposts of stuff freely ping-ponging their way around the Internet), sometimes not. In this post, none of the blogs are credited. It’s a mystery. Woooooooooooo…
Update (8/9): Due to the quirky (as in sub-functional) way in which Tumblr handles and displays captions on images in photosets and out of consideration for our friends who might be viewing this page through the Tumblr app on their mobile devices, which doesn’t show them at all, the caption information will, from this point forward, be listed in the body of the post as follows.
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.
So strong is the belief in life, in what is most fragile in life—real life, I mean—that in the end this belief is lost. Man, that inveterate dreamer, daily more discontent with his destiny, has trouble assessing the objects he has been led to use, objects that his nonchalance has brought his way, or that he has earned through his own efforts…he knows what women he has had, what silly affairs he has been involved in; he is unimpressed by his wealth or his poverty…If he still retains a certain lucidity, all he can do is turn back toward his childhood which, however his guides and mentors may have botched it, still strikes him as somehow charming…This imagination which knows no bounds is henceforth allowed to be exercised only in strict accordance with the laws of an arbitrary utility; it is incapable of assuming this inferior role for very long and, in the vicinity of the twentieth year, generally prefers to abandon man to his lusterless fate.
We are still living under the reign of logic…But in this day and age logical methods are applicable only to solving problems of secondary interest. The absolute rationalism that is still in vogue allows us to consider only facts relating directly to our experience…Under the pretense of civilization and progress, we have managed to banish from the mind everything that may rightly or wrongly be termed superstition, or fancy; forbidden is any kind of search for truth which is not in conformance with accepted practices.