My definition of art is always in progress but here is what I am currently going with: it is whatever makes us human. Specifically: art can be anything intentional that takes part of the world or human experience and makes it special and illuminates it.
In the "Age of the Internet" or whatever we are calling now, art is potentially everywhere. PBS has launched a YouTube show called Idea Channel, which is just a very engaging guy exploring the interaction of art and the internet a couple times a week. Last week he asked the question: "Is the web browser replacing the art gallery?"
This is a fair question, though really I want to respond with: "Does it matter?"
A gallery is an inherently exclusive place with bars for entry -- like where you live, who you know, your economic status, what you are wearing and what you know about cheese. But the internet is open to anyone with a computer and access to the tubes (so, still pretty exclusive if you live in North Korea or Somalia or poorer parts of the U.S.). Art distributed online can become wildly popular without the go-ahead of an old white guy who runs a college or a publication. It can be interactive and responsive. Anyone can be a creator, a distributor and/or a consumer without ever having to feel the icy shiver of judgment after walking into a gallery wearing Hammer pants and Tevas.
Which brings us to: the animated gif.
An animated gif is a few different images that are put together in a short animation. It's an old technology, in terms of the internet, one of the earliest ways to animate images online. An animated gif is a way of isolating a moment. Throughout the internet, animated gifs are seeing a resurgence in popularity. They are easy to create and can communicate things a simple image or bit of text can't, without the long, drawn out experience of a video.
Last week I sat down with Drew Beck, a photographer, designer and creator of the Tumblr 1800ILOVEGIFS. We drank whiskey, listened to Destroyer and ate gummy bears while discussing some of the gifs he has collected on his blog and why they work as pieces of art. What follows is an audio visual walk through a few of our favorite gifs.
The joy of melting chocolate:
Nostalgia and Elaine:
Going back to Dagobah:
The beauty and rhythm of Spider-Man:
I know how the kitty feels:
The endless feeling of melancholy:
Beware of sharks:
Nature's so crazy:
Want more beautiful/weird/disturbing gifs in your life? Check out Drew's blog 1800ILOVEGIFS.