All That Glitters

At first glance Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenscheid's latest foray into the realm of digital folklore, Olia's and Dragan's Comparative History of Classic Animated GIFs and Glitter Graphics seems like a purely aesthetic comparison between the animated gif and glittery graphics. Upon deeper reflection however, this 'Comparative History' offers much more. As an addendum to artist and critic Lialina's Vernacular Web 2.0 (a continuation of her widely-read A Vernacular Web) it simply and beautifully illustrates that the amateur web is alive and well in the over-designed web 2.0. The question of good vs. bad design that is raised by these simple graphics was the subject of a subsequent and highly illuminating discussion which recently took place on the collaborative net art site, Nasty Nets. Now footnoted in Lialina's text, the discussion addressed issues of class, aesthetics, and the affectation of 'dirt style' graphics in both earnest and ironic instances. It is a most welcome dialogue about how issues of functionality, aesthetics, and class are reflected in contemporary web design--or un-design, as the case may be.