Another thing that makes the gif medium so interesting is that it involves an almost imposed nostalgia. Gifs are of a previous internet era, a time when their small size was required because of limited bandwidth.
The nostalgia for prior mediums has resurged recently (though it’s possible it has always been this prevalent, just easier to see now). This gif draws on that nostalgia, though it also draws on the personal nostalgia of the mixtape; some of the tapes captured here exhibit handwriting and personal touches. I recall a tape of Beck songs a friend made for me that was covered in stickers and taped-on cutouts from magazines.
The flood of nostalgic images feels both universal and personal, though the personality isn’t highlighted as obviously as the flood of mass-produced similarities present in these old tapes, regardless of use or manufacturer.
(Source: dirtyaudience, via mikerugnetta)
MGMT album cover.
It’s an interesting stylistic choice to adopt the medium of the gif to advertise a musical work. There’s certainly no music associated with a gif (or at least, this gif; the medium is versatile). So it can’t be selling the album based on how it sounds.
No, a gif in this vein would ideally say something about the band themselves, maybe their story or their origins. At first, that seems to be what is happening, the semi-pastoral, semi-suburban Napoleon Dynamite-esque setting could suggest something about the band’s story of themselves. Flamboyant multicolored shirts and assorted cast-offs from a consignment shop, like the band’s collecting signifiers of down-home authenticity along with out-of-time kitsch. That kind of does sound like a press description of an indie band, doesn’t it?
In the end, the gif isn’t actually a new piece of art. Like most gifs, it’s derived from another thing, in this case the album art for the project it is promoting. I like the idea of an animated gif as an official promotional tool, but I wish this one would have taken another step away from traditional album-art reveal and further into the strange, complex world of giffery. But hey, you gotta sell albums, I guess.
This phenomenon “twerking” has experienced a meteoric rise within the last month or so. This is arguably primarily due to Miley Cyrus. Cyrus engaged in this provocative / slightly funny-looking dance in a few different forums, most prominantly at the MTV Video Music Awards. There’s an argument to be made that we find Miley Cyrus’s twerking to be funny only because it seems so wrong, like a mismatch between the Miley Cyrus we know and the action in which she is engaging.
That’s related to the fact that we see Cyrus’s twerking as a signifier of her seeming break from reality. We equate her twerking with a loss of control, with bad decisions, generally with a fall from purity and into insanity and trashiness. This says more about how we as a society percieve this dance (and the culture that created it), and less about Miley Cyrus.
All that aside, this sense of trashiness and out-of-control-ness comes part and parcel with twerking. Obviously, seeing such a buttoned-up, proper character as Hank Hill, a man actually scared of unpredictability and sexuality, engaging in this practice is an utter joy. I especially like the deeply troubled look on his face. That’s why the gif works. It’s just unfortunate that it relies on somewhat troubling cultural assumptions without challenging them.
Icosa / zolloc.tk
The technical prowess on display here is astounding. This gif uses 3d modeling technologies to present a very-real-seeming rotating icosahedron (the shape that lends the piece its name), something as tranquil as it is impossible. And the loop is seamless, a technical detail that’s easy to get wrong and hard to get right. The angular shape with the angular light, the muted tones and minimal variation from white to light-gray, the emptiness of the space (save the impossible object)… it all conveys something otherworldly, maybe holy. It doesn’t have the unexpected narrative flourish I’ve come to love in a great gif, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t beautiful.
there’s a new Sherrif in town
At its base, this gif is about traditional notions of heroism.
Woody from Toy Story is a shining example of goodness, simple and pure, the champion of both the toys and the good little children.
In Grand Theft Auto, the “hero” of the game is whatever you make him out to be; in the game, the new sheriff is you. And that usually means car-stealing and person-killing and woman-disrespecting. In essence, the game repaints a rather unseemly role into a heroic one, making leading men out of villains, for better or worse.
So here we have the pure hero turned into a villain in the role of hero. The acrobatics required to make this structure work are almost too much for the simple gif to bear. But, of course, the gif’s pretty goddamn funny anyway, so it ultimately works.
(Source: rokkstar, via zolloc)
smellslikesoftgrunge: “joe you ain’t SHIT”
This diptych connects two moments of overwhelming loss, two departures from different perspectives: the first is the actual final moments and the second is the reaction to the realization that those are the final moments. The first departure is Steve, our childhood guide through a strange new world. The second departure is the 10th Doctor, our slightly-more-grown-up guide through an equally strange new world.
The maker of this gif-pair deftly connects these two moments to reveal surprising similarities: both men did not merely disappear, but were replaced with new versions of themselves (Steve by Joe and David Tennant’s 10 by Matt Smith’s 11). And both left indelible impressions of what the ideal guide should be in each of their worlds.
Maybe the best detail about this gifset is that the audience’s surrogate in the piece is Wilfred Mott, a man who has already seen a whole life, but who rediscovers his childhood through his interactions with the 10th Doctor. We rediscover our own childhood in remembering Steve’s departure, remembering his effortlessly sonorous voice finally saying goodbye.
And in the end, both Blue’s Clues and Doctor Who are all about that most human of character traits: curiosity. The bridge between the two seems almost obvious in retrospect. And that’s what a great gif does: renders the heretofore unseen now blindingly obvious.
(Source: sweatinglikeahookerinchurch, via ruinedchildhood)
Gifs often refer to television and movies as a mode of connecting their art with culture; the merit of this gif is that its maker recognizes that Chicken McNuggets are an equally ubiquitous cultural experience as any film or television show.
The minimal context leaves the viewer to craft their own vision of the significance of the nugget: is this chicken-like morsel to be revered? Or feared?
In the end, the gif poses more questions than it answers, so of course its power derives nearly exclusively from the absurdity created by that lack of answers. Unfortunately, the floating nugget does not present mystery of a depth warranting repeat visits to this particular gif.
(Source: topherchris, via vegardingdong)
The gif medium is often about harnessing one piece of visual art to create another experience, an experience that is possibly entirely distinct and hopefully surprising. It’s often a way for fans of a television show to create bite-sized bits of the thing that they love. Sometimes, these bits are transformative, but often they are simply reminders of favorite moments from the show.
Darius Kazemi’s newest project (and I would recommend checking out ALL of his projects) imagines what would happen if someone took the latter approach to the television show “The Wire,” but instead of choosing favorite moments, chose moments at random. He refers to it as “automating fandom,” which is an alluring idea. This gif is the result of that process.
The project therefore comments on the process of gif creation itself, on the process of choosing scenes to gif. It might also be a commentary on the narratively-dense and highly procedural / technical nature of “The Wire,” saying that the show is less a collection of great gif-able moments and more a relentlessly life-like cavalcade of mundane moments that add up to a bigger picture but are not readily captured as gifs.
Regardless, the process unfortunately yields gifs like this one. I admire Kazemi’s process and intentions, but the resulting gifs lack the cultural experience the best gifs instill in the viewer. From a gif-viewing standpoint, no matter how laudable Kazemi’s process and intentions are, the resulting art lacks the spark that vitalizes a truly classic gif.