The Gif That Keeps on Giffing…

Hey~

Welcome back to my humble little dark corner of the web ^.^ Hope everyone had a nice enough week~

My week was the usual:

hell

Anyway, that brings us nicely to the topic at hand:  GIFs~

soft don’t @ me i’ll fight you

This week, we got to continue our exploration of new forms of digital content creation by discussing the gif. Now, if you’re like most Internet users these days, you are fairly familiar with the gif. Personally, I interact with the gif on a regular basis, encountering it across my social media feeds and using it to respond to other content in digital spaces. For me, and many others, these days, the gif is a standard of communication online.

In our class Studio Visit this week with Brian Lamb (@brlamb) we got to discuss more about communication of information in online spaces as well as a little about other concerns of being a digital citizen. Mainly, we focused on what the gif means to us and how we use it to communicate online. Brian described gifs as a “more expressive emoji” which I think is a fairly accurate interpretation though I do believe that gifs carry more context due to *mostly* coming from source content that is embedded in our culture somehow. In this way, a gif can have an inherent meaning to it before it is co-opted and remixed. I find the layering of meaning inherent in much of new media to be of great interest. Layered meaning is nothing new but I think there’s something different going on with gifs and memes. They are being remixed and co-opted at such a rate that their meanings are often vast and varied depending upon what corner of the web you find yourself in. When there is so much meaning, is there really any meaning? All if these things, because of rather than in spite of their layered meanings, seem to become this new kind of digital blank canvas upon which any expression can be placed. I think it’s fascinating.

That said, this ubiquity of reaction gifs and the like does concern me. I’m mainly concerned because the majority of gifs are recycled rather than made. Most of us don’t make gifs every time we want to use one. Rather, we select a gif or a meme from a repository of collected media. This limits our expressions to the options provided by a certain platform. It’s a peculiar curation of not just our emotional expressions but of digital culture. It’s this illusion of authenticity in expression. Often, like Brian, many of us describe gifs as allowing us to be more expressive online. But, is that really true when we consider the reality of so much digital content being “corralled” and commodified in order for easier consumption?

I find myself torn when I consider questions like this. Ideally, I do believe that new media and online spaces afford us more opportunities to connect, to express ourselves, to construct ourselves, to participate in life. But, I also understand that the commercialization of new media and online spaces interrupts these processes and turns them into for-profit enterprises under the guise of innovation and convenience. I’m victim to this myself (I started this post with a gif from Giphy even though I’m very capable of making my own). I guess I’m left to believe that possibility is something the Internet can provide but is not an inherent quality. Again, I think it comes down to usage. If one doesn’t use the Internet to explore themselves then they will never think of the Internet as a place where that is possible.

All this said, I want to reiterate that I do believe new media can be a conduit for very profound and powerful messages. It can also be a way to share a meme or a gif about nothing much at all. The Internet, in some ways, is like the traditional faerie realms of old: mercurial, ambivalent, and capricious at best. Everything you say can be both taken at face value and also imbued with a multiplicity of meaning. It’s never a dull day in digital spaces, to say the least.

The Arganee Cafe

Speaking of “no dull days in digital spaces”, this week we were introduced to the Arganee cafe. In order to describe our experience of exploring this new space, we were asked to create gifs (full circle, eh?) ^.^ I had some fun with mine. I giffed some scenes from Scott Pilgrim.

dismantlingthegov

Think I captured the essence of something….

Feel free to check out My Make for this activity ^.^

(I also highly recommend checking out @masooch‘s Make too~ I died.)

In addition to exploring the Arganee cafe, we were also asked to imagine a digital alchemist persona again. Originally, I was going to “recycle” my twisted, little faerie but I don’t really want to disturb her (she can be scary >.<). Rather, I decided to create a new digital alchemist. Though she clearly still has a #aesthetic, I imagine her as less of a foreboding presence and more of a sentinel-avenger type. I’m always going on about how I’m dtf (down to fight) so I figured I’d channel that fighting spirit into a character all its own. Be sure to check her out on Twitter (she may be a bit shy standoffish at first but don’t worry, she cares). You can learn more about her character, as well, by checking out My Make for my rage-filled avengeress~

She totally has a theme song btw

don’t shame me billie eilish is #goals

****

Bonus Post

This week, in my post for the field guide, I shared a podcast episode exploring the gif medium and some of the concerns surrounding gifs I mentioned above. I highly recommend checking it out and giving the podcast a listen~

Daily Digital Alchemies

I actually have two bonus posts this week if you count the post I did for DDA304 where I explored what is lost but, also, what can be gained in translation~

My second DDA is one I submitted! I’m happy to see it being used and to see the different responses others have to it. For my response, I decided, actually, to alter a gif I made for my thesis project (and didn’t end up using):

degenerate.gif

I made the image kaleidoscopic and then added a rippling water effect to it to give it a reflection. I think it looks like the sky over one pesky little faerie’s Arganee home. What do you think?

****

~Till next time~