GIFABILITY

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Last winter, Dan Harmon, who was then the executive producer of the television sitcom Community, shared that he tried, “many times a season” to put star Alison Brie “in a situation, wardrobe-wise, that I know is going to end up as an animated GIF file!”[1] Those GIFs, which circulate on Tumblr and other social media networks that traffic in images, are frame-capture GIFs. Unlike other GIF types, frame-capture GIFs plainly collect and endlessly repeat a single pop cultural moment from movies, TV shows, sporting events, political occasions, newscasts, cartoons, or even video games. As GIFs are silent, text is used to share dialogue or help shepherd the meaning of a GIF. Frame-grab GIFs are low-quality, incessantly mobile things, they can be awkwardly cropped and their focus is always obviously legible. Somewhat counter to this are what Daniel Rourke has termed art GIFs,[2] which, while also frequently sourced from movies or television, contain higher resolutions and have a self-consciously highbrow pretention, usually focusing on subtler, “artistic” moments.

A frame-grab GIF

Writing in the early 1990s, Susan Stewart observed that “with the advent of film, interpretation has been replaced by watching … Here we see the increasing historical tendency toward the self-sufficient machine, the sign that generates all consequent signs, the Frankenstein and the thinking computer that have the capacity to erase their authors and, even more significantly, to erase the labor of their authors.”[3] Stewart's diagnosis of the filmic watching-state returns, in a modified form, with the frame-grab GIF. These GIFs are in some sense the ultimate in self-sufficiency, not merely in the eternal return of their endless loop, but also within what Rourke has called the co-ordination of “their own realm of correspondence.”[4]

The quality of the frame-grab GIF is important. Borrowing insights from Hito Steyerl’s analysis of the poor image, the creation and distribution of frame-grab GIFs “enables the user’s active participation in the creation and distribution of content, it also drafts them into production. Users become editors, critics, translators, and (co)authors of poor images.”[5] Perhaps due to their quality and size, frame-grab GIFs have necessarily abstracted authorship. They are deployed in variable contexts, as reactions, illustrations, or expressions. Art GIFs, on the other hand, are circulated to be admired. Their authorship is also more consistently policed, as their authors demand credit for their work.

 

An example of what Daniel Rourke terms an "art GIF" (via)

While Stewart’s description of “the sign that generates all consequent signs” is one that erases authorship, the vernacular of frame-grab GIFs does something different. Instead of completely erasing authorship, the creation of frame-grab GIFs rearranges its tenets. Generally centered on a performer, framing the actor/actress in a context removed from the narrative flow of their source media. With their behavior on display, they carry a kind of performative authorial focus within the GIF. While the GIF is not by them, it is of them...

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Gallery in Your Pocket: An Interview with Chiara Passa

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Francoise Gamma

Widget Art Gallery, developed and curated by Chiara Passa, is an exhibition space that fits in your pocket. This digital gallery is an app for iPhones and iPads. Over email, I asked Passa several questions about the project:

What was your motivation behind starting the Widget Art Gallery?

Different reasons led me to start the Widget Art Gallery.

The first one is that I’ve always wanted to do my own curatorial digital art project in relation to a space.

The second reason is the economic crisis. So, it was unreasonable for me to rent an exposition space since it was too binding, and three years ago I decided to create a virtual display space that Id thought extremely coherent in order to show digital art; simple to manage for me and easy to understand for users. Due to our needs that seem to be increasingly handheld, WAG was born. The Widget Art Gallery is a mini three-D, single art gallery room that fits into people’s pocket.

The virtual gallery-room, every month, directly on people’s mobile, hosts a solo digital art exhibition related to the dynamic site-specific contest. So the WAG works both as a sort of kunsthall showing temporary exhibitions and as a permanent collection museum because it conserves all the past exhibitions inside an online archive.

The third aim is a conceptual and emotional one. Recently, I was surprised by the increasing involvement of the audience that I am seeing in some recent mobile-art projects, so I wanted to create a virtual space accessible to everybody by simply using an internet connection. The Widget Art Gallery is a free Safari Mobile Web-based App and works online through two different links for IPhone and IPad. It’s also possible to download the widget version for mac-osx dashboard.

The fourth motivation is a technical one. I’ve built the WAG within the HTML5 programming language and JavaScript functions; therefore it’s simpler to manage and to make some modifications each time there is an update and to switch to the next exhibition, without depending by Apple Store and their decisions/upgrades.

Do you think that bringing the online exhibition to a mobile platform brings it closer to the initial experience of the modern gallery show — i.e. trying to have a private interaction with a work of art in a very public place?

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Glitching on Tumblr

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From Glitch-Hop

Among the recent grop of gif-based glitch Tumblrs is Year of the Glitch, a glitch-a-day blog run by the artist Phillip Stearns featuring a totalizing glitch, where any trace of the previous media has been virtually destroyed. Meanwhile, Tumblrs Glitch Gifs, Glitch-Hop, Glitchee, and Compression Errors feature glitches gleaned from popular, recognizable sources, where amusement comes from the intrusion of a chance-like error on a recognizable piece of media. There's even Food Mosh, a glitch take on the popularity of pictures of food. These are more easily classified as utilizing datamoshing, where manipulations in digital compression produce pixel bleeding. 

Some theory about the practice is can be provided by Thomas Levin: "What is at stake in the vocabulary of such 'compression errors'—evident both in the domains of avant-garde video and in the more popular idiom of music video—is a rendering readable of 'differencing,' of what I call the 'preductive aesthetics of the absent image.'"

Studies: Dither + Flicker No. 1 from Year of the Glitch

Via Food Mosh

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Review: WALLPAPERS by Sara Ludy and Nicolas Sassoon

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Nicolas Sassoon and Sara Ludy have a deep collective interest in pixelated virtual architecture and are both members of the online art collective Computers Club. Sassoon has an extensive collection of architectural animated gifs on his own site and considers them representatives of an ideal, only achievable in virtual space. Ludy, with a background in interior design, creates videos of catalog-like architecture melting together in saw-toothed fades. Their latest collaboration, WALLPAPERS, reframes their interest in physical space. Up for only one day at 319 Scholes and curated by Lindsay Howard and Katie Miller, Sassoon and Ludy’s installation transforms the location into immersive wall-sized animated gifs.

Their attention to detail and layout of the space coalesced to create a mesmerizing field. Spanning two large walls of the front room, Sassoon’s snowfield drifted upwards surrounded by darkness revealing different patterns of movement at varying distances. This added contrast to Ludy’s well cropped hybrid violet animation that rendered a mixing slow motion waterfall of abstracted texture landing somewhere between moss, leaves, and stone. Pausing for a moment, the landscape revealed itself. Ludy’s image projected onto the doorway connecting to the second room synced perfectly with the existing perpendicular lines of the architecture. Snow was falling up as the viewers walked into a temple entrance cast out of a forgotten 8-bit videogame nightscape.

The technical setup was acutely tuned to the relationship between the images, viewers, and projectors.  Two laptops cropped out of the floor resembling viewing stations for the scene. This intentional placement informed the tremendous scale shift between screen and wall. Viewers walking through the space playfully interrupted projectors beaming their images from floor level below the laptops. Staring closely at an image on one of the laptops made it possible to see the pixelations. Walking close to the wall, however, revealed a serendipitous match between the pixilated screen of the projectors resolution limits and the pixels of the animated gifs themselves. WALLPAPERS effectively wraps the viewers into architecture.

 

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Rosa Menkman Remixes for A Dramatic Exit of Tosca

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TowardsAndBeyond.com by Rafaël Rozendaal (flash), compressed by Rosa Menkman (avi cinepak 256 greys).

beefchickenpork.com by Rafaël Rozendaal (flash), compressed by Rosa Menkman (gif with dither).

aestheticecho.com by Rafaël Rozendaal (flash), compressed by Rosa Menkman (avi cinepak 256 greys).

A Dramatic Exit of Tosca (Music by Isan and Evan Voytas and Video by Rafael Rozendaal, Jeffers and Rosa Menkman)

Last month, I prolonged my stay in Rio for one week, during which I got the chance to work together with Rafaël Rozendaal, ISAN, Evan Voytas, Elen and Jeffers Egan. It is pretty hard (if not impossible) to develop a 70 minute performance in 5 days, with a group of people you have never met before; working methods, perspectives, aesthetics and aims differ per artist. This is why the artist talks that were given at Parque Lage, were (albeit a bit late into the week) very useful for me.

During his lecture, Rafaël noted: "normally we are used to interactivity as a goal, but I am more interested in interactivity without a goal." A conceptual use of meaninglessness that kick-started my wish to connect my methods with Rafaëls work.

Rafaël also said that for our performance, he wanted to use already existing flash work, because "Flash works are both scalable without quality loss and have a very small file size" - which he described as some of the most important material qualities of his work (and which reminded me of some neo-demoscene-gen). Besides this, the development of a new concept and a new work would take much to long.

Normally I also take a long time for the creation of a work, but given the purpose of ROJO®nova, I decided I wanted to take the chance and make something new. Rafaëls talk inspired me to base all the visuals ...

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3D ASCII Animated GIF from Japan

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Japanese tech news publication Weekly ASCII has an animated gif tutorial including this 3D ASCII gif.

via Prosthetic Knowledge

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#hi11 gifs from Ryder Ripps

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Oh hai 11. I made the pilgrimage to LA from NY for 10 days to live in an "orphanage" and help with the Fitch/Trecartin #hi11 New Years Eve party.. I brought with me my tech expertise as well as a keen eye for Subway bread and Croc color pallets. I came back with some gifs and a happy feeling inside. Some highlights bellow, click here to view all.

3d #hi11 txt by Rhet LaRue
Filling up the black light bubble machine
Pole Dancer, Breezelle, in the DIS Room
Elizabeth Dee J-ing
Asma Maroof, of NGUZUNGUZU, on the decks
the floor
the look
Crocs and Locks.. set up by myself and Jonny Mandabach
Ryan and I testing out the green screen, behind us, a feed from the dance floor downstairs.
Head chef, Ryan Riehle, happy about completing over 2011 empanadas.
Ashland (TOTAL FREEDOM) rolling his eyes after a long day on the hi11.

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