I'm in Miami, winding down a week of taking in the city during Art Basel. Friday night, we went to warehouse that had, on one side, a cavernous, dark exhibit of GIFs on one side, and on the other, a party with free Belvedere, inflatable soccer balls, and Dan Deacon "spinning" the "cuts." After the haircut before him finished his Clams Casino instros, Deacon set the party off with Bowie's "Modern Love," R.Kelly's evergreen "Ignition Remix," and Rod Stewart's "Young Turks." The party was presented by Tumblr and Paddle 8, an auction site that provided the branded soccer balls that were occasionally punted around. I watched a couple vodka and cranberries get knocked onto people's Basel outfits. I liked to imagine the party turning uptoo far, with a rowdy, Belvy-fueled game of dodgeball breaking out, people leaping over benches, Dan Deacon getting bombed into unconsciousness for playing "This Is How We Do It." To all my neightbors, you got much flavor.
As for the exhibit, there was a short film about the GIF's history, made by one Sean Pecknold:
The gifs themselves seemed dwarfed by the space they were in, not to mention static—for being moving images, that is. Watching them cycle through on a flat wall, they left less of an impression on me than usual; maybe I'm spoiled by the experience of scrolling down a Tumblr dash. The seriousness of the space (aside from Deacon spinning "Tequila" in the other room) seemed to dampen their impact as well—I'm conditioned to gifs as decontextualized little bits of pop culure flotsam, reflecting the itchy anxieties and VHS nostalgia of the online generation. No gifs of Cliff Huxtable, face all a-wobble, preparing to eat a sandwich, or a wasted-looking loop of Kelly Kapowski glitching into a Pizza Hut commercial. I would've loved to see the work of Seattle's GIF LORDS too, for that matter. Maybe somebody could "reblog" this happening in Seattle. I would "like" that.