GIFs: mix or motion? (2)


The discussion I had with Will Brand about animated GIFs a while back went south about the moment he used the word "butthurt." Nevertheless, here's the crux of the argument:

Brand says:

The preference for GIF as a medium, it seems to me, has nothing to do whatsoever with its compression algorithms, a teensy bit to do with the retro appeal of a limited color palette, and a whole lot to do with the fact that - as the very existence of your remix culture indicates - it's so easily interchanged.

This was after I questioned whether the word "interchange" in the acronym Graphics Interchange Format was the main reason someone might use the GIF format. Anyway, reply:

My guess is that the reason people put [the] "OptiDisc" [GIF] on their websites isn't because they thought, "oh this is something I can remix" but rather because it appealed on some more fundamental level. I'm interested in what that fundamental level is--probably a combination of formal properties, psychological investigation, critique, humor--and "remixability" comes somewhere further down the list.

Slight self-wince: the "f" word is usually best avoided because once it's out there people say "ah, so you're a formalist." Well, no, only an idiot suggests form is content... I did a better job of manifesto-izing earlier and I like Gene McHugh's discussion of how painterly interests could be adapted to a new medium. Brand knows the reasoning, he just doesn't agree, and continued throughout the thread to proffer his more theoretically correct take. (At least he didn't overtly talk about relational aesthetics.) By the end of the discussion he was telling me I should be happy to have the validation of the show.

Afterthought: Much of this is already moot because now that GIFs have gone mainstream we have to talk about them in a less self-conscious way. Some may feel trapped between the Scylla of social sculpture and the Charybdis of GIFs that look like 1940s art photography with a slight twitch. (hat tip DS)

films not about here

The Netflix movies I've been watching lately are mostly French: Enter the Void (well, South American French), Irma Vep, Pierrot Le Fou, Mon Uncle, Playtime, Mr. Hulot's Holiday, La Jetee, Masters of Time, Fantastic Planet...

So much self-reflection and paradox: worlds within worlds, movies about making movies...

Those Tati films, in particular, can be watched over and over. The restaurant scene in Playtime is some of the most perfectly organized chaos ever filmed.

But it must be added that the Netflix diet also includes copious Japanese monster movies: Son of Godzilla, Mothra, Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster, War of the Gargantuas (with Russ Tamblyn!).
Here are tragedy, scale, naked displays of emotion, and relentless corny humor.

The common thread in these extremes is a sense of beauty and style. America does unidimensional, ugly, redneck vulgarity very well (our Internet Art is steeped in it) but it gets old.