Bad ideas never die. Following The Atlantic’s profile on Jamie Beck’s incredible single-handed transformation of GIFs into “a respected art form” (pretty girl’s hair + wind = art), the Daily Mail has found other hair models to feature. Dubbed “cinemagraphs”, writer Daniel Bates (who, notably, is not an art writer – the Mail doesn’t have those) says these new GIFs “take ‘stills’ to the next level”. As I mentioned the other day, the underlying assumption here is that photography needs to be legitimated by cinema, as do GIFs.
Bates adds a few other images to the ever-growing pool of image files that animate a small portion of a photograph and cribs my favorite Beck quote from the Atlantic:
'There’s movement in everything and by capturing that plus the great things about a still photograph you get to experience what a video has to offer without the time commitment a video requires.'
You know what else offers all the great the things a still photograph has to offer without the time commitment of a video? A short video. I can see where the future is heading though. Homer Simpson cried because five seconds was too long to wait for his microwave to cook his food. It’s only a matter of time before GIFs become too time consuming to watch!
That the conversation should be so vacant grates, largely because there are actual art references the above GIF evokes that have not been named. Richard Estes’s photorealist reflection paintings immediately come to mind, as does Olafur Eliasson’s Innen Stadt Aussen and even Roy Lichtenstein’s Mirror series. This particular GIF is pretty basic relative to those artists, but it’s worth mentioning that it belongs to a well-established genre of art making that isn’t defined solely by medium, but rather subject matter. What do reflections tell us about how we see the world? Can they change what and how we see? How critical is the role of representation in these works? I know it’s setting a low bar, but while I don’t think it’s essential for mainstream media to ask these questions, I wish they would at least attempt to identify the subject matter of a few of them. Not every story needs to be a trend or innovation set to change the world as we know it.