Mar 2, 2011

Obsession with Compression (an essay about GIFs)


The GIF’s straightforward looping mechanism revels in its own simplicity and the manner in which it professes to be nothing more profound than what 3~ seconds of your time can possibly allow for as a work of visual art. In an online environment that exalts immediacy and ease of use, the GIF is not a fetishization of the past or Web 1.0 culture– as many have argued– but a fetishization of the internet’s propensity for compressing information to the furthest degree possible. In a world of Macbook Airs, external hard drives the size of a thumb, and 140 character limits on textual communication, the GIF is a suitable alternative for those who can’t quite make it through a 2 minute Youtube video without advancing forward to the 1:00 and 1:30 minute markers after the first 10 seconds prove too dull for viewing. The most crucial question for artists to ask in response to the GIF’s obsession with compression is whether the GIF is a true harbinger of conceptual efficiency or an ornamental novelty of its own lightness?
Read full essay here