The Gif Critic

IT'S ART, YA DINGUS

Gifs generally tend toward the frantic. I admire the sense of calm this one captures. It’s surprisingly evocative. If I stare at this too long, I can suddenly hear thunder rolling through downtown Columbus outside my apartment window. I can smell the rain working its weird alchemy on the dry earth. The narrow depth of field in this gif further serves to define its world. It’s a special piece that can make the viewer feel as if she lives inside of the gif. Aside from the very minor stutter at the loop-seam, this one is an absolute joy. I could spend days lost inside of this gif.
GRADE: A
Single Avengers
There’s a growing grumbling in the world of Marvel comics fandom related to the portrayal of women as unrealistic, contorted on comic book covers into impossible body shapes. There’s a movement out there, called the Hawkeye Initiative, that’s all about drawing Hawkeye, a male hero, into the cartoonish poses Marvel artists seem to think are natural for female bodies.
This gif shares DNA with that movement, and that’s part of the joy. But most of the joy is from the sheer idiocy of the smashing-together cultural sources: a Beyonce video, a Saturday Night Live sketch, Marvel films, the outside-of-the-film Loki fandom… the tumultuous interaction of cultural bits is enough to make one giddy.
GRADE: A

Single Avengers

There’s a growing grumbling in the world of Marvel comics fandom related to the portrayal of women as unrealistic, contorted on comic book covers into impossible body shapes. There’s a movement out there, called the Hawkeye Initiative, that’s all about drawing Hawkeye, a male hero, into the cartoonish poses Marvel artists seem to think are natural for female bodies.

This gif shares DNA with that movement, and that’s part of the joy. But most of the joy is from the sheer idiocy of the smashing-together cultural sources: a Beyonce video, a Saturday Night Live sketch, Marvel films, the outside-of-the-film Loki fandom… the tumultuous interaction of cultural bits is enough to make one giddy.

GRADE: A

(Source: yobabesblog, via the-absolute-best-gifs)

Gifs already reduce high-definition video to something just marginally more low-res or abstract. But the gif still basically resembles the thing it represents. That’s why this pairing is so enlightening: it’s what happens when the slightly-lower-resolution gif is reduced in resolution even further. The vista and cloudscape becomes a smear of color, a collection of squares. Natural images retain some of their beauty even when abstracted to the point of just being a collection of pixels. GRADE: B+

Gifs already reduce high-definition video to something just marginally more low-res or abstract. But the gif still basically resembles the thing it represents. That’s why this pairing is so enlightening: it’s what happens when the slightly-lower-resolution gif is reduced in resolution even further. The vista and cloudscape becomes a smear of color, a collection of squares. Natural images retain some of their beauty even when abstracted to the point of just being a collection of pixels. GRADE: B+

(Source: naturalpalettes)

animatedtext:

requested by seapunkdad 

The confines of the gif do not specify in what action it is the speaker is engaging for which pooping would be a preferable substitute. The mind reels at the possibilities. This could be a disconcerting message delivered in a disconcerting manner: the colors are jarring, and the rotation is impossible. But the sentiment is off-hand, bouncing jovially like an insurance salesman telling all of his co-workers that he doesn’t have to be crazy to work there… but it helps.
GRADE: A-

animatedtext:

requested by seapunkdad 

The confines of the gif do not specify in what action it is the speaker is engaging for which pooping would be a preferable substitute. The mind reels at the possibilities. This could be a disconcerting message delivered in a disconcerting manner: the colors are jarring, and the rotation is impossible. But the sentiment is off-hand, bouncing jovially like an insurance salesman telling all of his co-workers that he doesn’t have to be crazy to work there… but it helps.

GRADE: A-

"Tapes."
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.
GRADE: B

"Tapes."

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.

GRADE: B

(Source: dirtyaudience, via mikerugnetta)

whoismgmt:

MGMT album cover.September 17http://whoismgmt.com/mgmtreveal

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.
GRADE: C-

whoismgmt:

MGMT album cover.
September 17
http://whoismgmt.com/mgmtreveal

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.

GRADE: C-

Lady Gaga’s Abramovic Method
Marina Abramovic’s resurgence in recent years makes a degree of sense, especially considering Lady Gaga’s aproach to pop music and what it means for popular culture as a method for artistic engagement with an audience. In reading about and seeing Abramovic’s pieces, one is struck by the coherence of the ideas that inform each piece. This is less true for Lady Gaga. Her ideas are getting more and more strange, but they don’t seem to be getting more coherent. The video that forms the base of this gif shows Gaga engaging in something known as the Abramovic method. When Marina Abramovic does her weird stuff, she’s doing it to make viewers engage with an idea. Gaga seems to be doing it to make viewers engage with her, which is just a lot less interesting.
This gif could comment on the Abramovic method, on Abramovic’s rise to prominence, on Gaga’s failure to achieve (or success in achieving) Abramovic’s connection with idea and audience. It doesn’t do much of any of that. But it is goofy-looking, and I think I enjoy seeing Gaga in goofy-looking situations, ones that undercut her apparent self-importance.
GRADE: C

Lady Gaga’s Abramovic Method

Marina Abramovic’s resurgence in recent years makes a degree of sense, especially considering Lady Gaga’s aproach to pop music and what it means for popular culture as a method for artistic engagement with an audience. In reading about and seeing Abramovic’s pieces, one is struck by the coherence of the ideas that inform each piece. This is less true for Lady Gaga. Her ideas are getting more and more strange, but they don’t seem to be getting more coherent. The video that forms the base of this gif shows Gaga engaging in something known as the Abramovic method. When Marina Abramovic does her weird stuff, she’s doing it to make viewers engage with an idea. Gaga seems to be doing it to make viewers engage with her, which is just a lot less interesting.

This gif could comment on the Abramovic method, on Abramovic’s rise to prominence, on Gaga’s failure to achieve (or success in achieving) Abramovic’s connection with idea and audience. It doesn’t do much of any of that. But it is goofy-looking, and I think I enjoy seeing Gaga in goofy-looking situations, ones that undercut her apparent self-importance.

GRADE: C

(Source: nolancorbin, via mikerugnetta)

maudit:

hanktwerk (x)

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.
GRADE: B

maudit:

hanktwerk (x)

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.

GRADE: B

(via zolloc)

zolloc:

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.
GRADE: A-

zolloc:

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.

GRADE: A-

(Source: zolloc)

austinmeowdodge:

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.
GRADE: B+

austinmeowdodge:

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.

GRADE: B+

(Source: rokkstar, via zolloc)