Massive Links: What Can Curators Tells Us About Not Shitting Ourselves All Day | Jim Carrey’s Nuts Are A-Okay | Some GIFs Are Small

by Paddy Johnson on June 16, 2011 · 90 comments Massive Links

John Chamberlain, Installation view at The Pace Gallery

  • This week in meaningless studies, Miller McCune cites a new report published by the American Psychological Association that finds babies prefer Picasso’s cubism to the impressionism of Claude Monet. What does this tell us? According to the study, that “infants prefer paintings with clear contrasts in luminance”. According Miller McCune’s Tom Jacob, Thomas Kinkade “appeals to our inner infant”.
    This is complete nonsense, but a couple of obvious points nonetheless:
  1. Since Kinkade wasn’t part of the study and a fairly stark contrast from the work of Picasso, Jacob’s final comparison is meaningless.
  2. Studies like this tell us about infant development, not why adults like the art we do.
  3. This is a bit of speculation on my part, but I’d bet this study tells us what reproductions babies like better, not actual paintings.
  4. We’re low on food research that asks babies to evaluate the taste of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s curry vs that of Felix Gonzalez-Torres piles of candy. Once those answers are found, I’m sure we can draw some definitive conclusions about which food is better.
  • Jim Carrey’s jet is on sale on eBay with a buy-it now price of $1.5 mil. When I queried the office over why he might be selling the plane I got the following unanimous response: There’s a limit to how long getting kicked in the balls will entertain people enough to be a viable revenue source. Ha ha and all that, but Carrey’s nuts can’t be that damaged. Mr. Popper’s Penguins opens this July, and by the looks of the trailer it’s sure to bring in a boatload of cash.
  • Tom Moody recreates Google’s awful Martha Graham Dance logo, originally a CSS sprite animation, as a GIF, thereby proving that it could have been rendered at a smaller size had they used the file format. It’s a good post to nerd out with, though having less stake in the technical end of things, I appreciate Moody’s explanation for the effort:
    What is at ultimately at stake here is forced corporate replacement of a universal, open source means of animation that almost anyone can make (GIFs) vs a type of animation that requires the coding skills of web specialists, who are mostly in the employ of big companies. Any “contest” between the two formats is going to be rigged since Google has a network of local server caches allowing its images to be loaded quickly, as opposed to a single mom and pop website groaning under the weight of image requests.
    The unanswered question for me, though, is what financial stake a corporation has in replacing an image format that’s easy to produce with one that takes more labor and costs more. Users don’t stay on websites that load slowly, and results that aren’t good for the user aren’t good for Google either.
  • James Franco is an art goldmine. Artist duo Praxis has raised over $11,381 on Kickstarter to produce a museum of Non-Visible art, using James Franco as their spokesman. That’s well over their 5,000 goal. Strangely, this is a museum that sells “products”. $10,000 for fresh-air. Via: ArtINFO
  • CityArts critic Valerie Galdstone begins her review of John Chamberlain’s show at The Pace with the words, “America's greatest living sculptor, John Chamberlain…”. I nearly stopped reading there — the artist’s twisted sculptures have never looked like more than scrap metal to me — but then I figured, I’m already having a bad day. Why not punish myself? It worked.


Carolina A. Miranda June 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm

omg, want to double-thumb like that jen dalton bit….

Tim Whidden June 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Paddy, you really need to stop listening to Moody. He knows next to nothing about the web. Esp. its technologies. 

The blurb you posted is just a bunch of FUD. The only reason ‘anyone’ can create a GIF is because programmers wrote software that allows them to do it. The same thing will happen for HTML5. It’s already happening:

Who knows why Google chose HTML5? But an animated GIF is essentially a flipbook — a series of static frames. Using computation to animate allows variations for different users/user-agents. The frames don’t have to be static. Also, in many applications creating complex animations via computation would result in something significantly smaller than a GIF. Especially if it’s covering large dimensions. 

And, the ‘HTML5’ standards are open.

Duncan Alexander June 16, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Tom and I talked about the Google doodle before his most recent post; we were brainstorming reasons as to why they would use coded frames over a GIF. Here are two parts of my email, and I still think these two reasons are the most valid:

3. This is most likely the main reason they went with sprites – display.
Google didn’t want to use an infinitely looping GIF because they want
the logo to stay put after the “dance” is over. They couldn’t have used a
finite GIF either because most browsers treat finite GIFs a little too
finitely, that is they only play once per browsing session, not page
view. Video was out of the question, because compression would add seams
around the image, and I don’t think that Google is a supporter of Flash
animations either. Another aspect to consider is that many browsers
don’t treat GIF timing exactly the same, and one of the key aspects of
the doodle is movement over time.

5. Google likes to show off what their programmers can do with simple code.

I don’t think that it’s some sort of corporate plot against the GIF, I think that Google just wanted a level of control over how their images displayed that the format couldn’t offer them. As to why most social networking and corporate sites want GIF-free content, it’s just because they annoy some people and behave differently from computer to computer. (Most) web designers like predictability in their work.

Lastly, if you saw the most recent Google doodles – the Les Paul guitar and the lunar eclipse – you would notice that the doodlers were at it again with simple code and friendly interfaces. Google likes to show off its programmers’ chops as a gesture to both consumers, interested programmers and rival companies. Everyone in this debate should just calm down and accept that the Martha Graham thing was just there to boost public sentiment and interest the curious.

alex carlill June 18, 2011 at 9:45 pm

This is by far the best assessment of Google’s likely perspective on this that I’ve seen – thanks for being calm, rational and realistic Duncan.

tom moody June 17, 2011 at 12:06 am

My post was a response to a statement by an AFC commenter: “Google’s decision to use CSS sprites and JavaScript to animate them was the most bandwidth-efficient way to create a cross-browser animation.” Admitting that I am not a developer, I made a GIF that was smaller than Google’s sprite sheet (and therefore more “bandwidth efficient”) without losing any of the image. This seems to have upset someone.

Will Brand June 17, 2011 at 3:15 am

And it turns out you were right. Fair dues. Tim’s comments – however hostile – on your interpretation of Google’s motives are still valid, though. 

tom moody June 17, 2011 at 8:32 am

Re: “It turns out I was right” – I didn’t say anything about the Martha Graham animation’s efficiency in my original post. You made that pronouncement without doing any fact checking and I checked.

alex carlill June 18, 2011 at 9:40 pm

re: fact checking – there are a lot of technical errors in yr post on GIFs/CSS/bandwidth efficiency. messaged you on Twitter about it – I assume the lack of reply is due to the fact that you just don’t check Twitter all that often? if it’s more convenient I can copy them here.

alex carlill June 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm

given that GIF has a reduced colorspace you did, by default, lose some of the image.

tom moody June 17, 2011 at 12:17 am

Let’s add that the “open source” Tumult Hype editor plugged above only works on Apple devices and has to be purchased through the dreaded App Store.

Will Brand June 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Who are you quoting? Nobody in this thread (or, so far as I can tell, the internet as a whole) has called Tumult Hype open-source. In fact, the last time I heard anyone but you mention the App Store, it was because Apple was pulling GPL software from the Store because of license term clashes: 

Given that that’s a pretty strong point for your argument, I have to assume you haven’t been following this, but decided to make up a quote anyway.

tom moody June 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Tim Whidden links to Tumult Hype (available in the App Store) and says the program makes it possible for “anyone” to work with HTML5. HTML5 is supposedly an open standard. (You’re welcome.)

sally June 17, 2011 at 1:37 am

regarding the babies looking at art thing — it’s pretty well established in the neuroscience of vision that the eyes/brain get excited by edges. But that doesn’t mean that things with high contrast necessarily make better art. VS Ramachandran threw a theory at one point that caricatures make for better art than photographs because they exaggerate key features and have high contrast. But looking at art isn’t the same kind of activity as regular looking. I think we’re usually a little more open to perceptual challenges when we’re in art mode than we would be if we were, say, trying to find something to eat. One of the aggravating things about a lot of neuroaesthetics is the assumption that art is all about beauty, reward and stimulating pleasure centres. Not to dismiss the importance of pleasure, but sometimes being aggravated or confounded is more stimulating, art-wise, than being satisfied.

Jesse P. Martin June 19, 2011 at 9:54 pm

this thread is HIGH c0nTR@$t & EdGY, but i don’t think that babies would like it much (this is an assumption, since i don’t have an infant handy to dangle in front of the screen w/one hand as my other hand manages the scroll-bar).

hence, i am starting a kickstarer to solicit me some kizzy-k@zzy-ke$h@-k@$h ( so’s i can afford me a Net-Artist/Neuroscientist’s Assistant to perform such tasks (and to afford a baby).

tom moody June 17, 2011 at 3:51 am

My “interpretation of Google’s motives” isn’t based on one animation, gang. We’ve been talking for a few months about the hurdles Google put up to searching for animated GIFs on Google Images, and the Google exec’s comment about “not remembering the last time he saw an animated GIF.” Facebook, Apple, even Microsoft are all making it clear that GIFs will be replaced with something more friendly to their various design/sales schemes (Windows no longer allows you to browse through moving GIFs in its photo-browser–you have to open them individually in a web browser). Pointing out the obvious isn’t conspiracy-mongering.
Nor is asking why we need “next level” animation tools when they aren’t actually as efficient as the one we have.
But Tim is right, you should only listen to people who make their living as programmers and web designers–they have done such a great job managing the Net so far.

Will Brand June 17, 2011 at 5:44 am

I haven’t been following this stuff closely enough to know which Google exec you’re talking about, or to comment on that generally. That said, I’m still unclear on the financial benefit to anyone in restricting the use of GIFs (perhaps Google programmers will become the primary animation-makers in the New World Order? I’m still unclear on who this helps).

Outside of that, a more general question, which you’re free to answer here or on your blog or not at all: why do GIFs matter to artists? Do they matter? Is this GIF partisanship a social project, or is it relevant to the working methods of net artists today? Specifically, I’m looking for an answer that isn’t equally applicable to another format.

alex carlill June 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Tom, I don’t think Tim is claiming that we should only listen to professional coders/designers – just that it might be a good idea to pay more attention to people who actually know what they’re talking about when discussing technical details. As yr last post ably demonstrated you don’t seem to be part of that group.

tom moody June 17, 2011 at 8:42 am

You definitely haven’t been following this–that has been clearly established over several long comment threads full of sound and fury. Why did Paddy exhibit this GIF partisanship in curating a show called Graphics Interchange Format, or declare 2010 the “year of the animated GIF”? Maybe you should ask her.

tom moody June 17, 2011 at 9:18 am

As for why Google chose HTML5 over GIFs, Tim Whidden says he doesn’t know why and I don’t either. I don’t know why Blogger disables animated GIFs or why Facebook doesn’t allow them.

Ian Aleksander Adams June 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm

the facebook question seems easy: fear of becoming like myspace. they want control over the branded design for every profile so when someone lands on a page – it’s obviously facebook.

of course, the fear has gone too far – gifs on walls wouldn’t make it not look like facebook. and would be a lot of fun.

tom moody June 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Outside of that, a more general question, which you’re free to answer
here or on your blog or not at all: why does YouTube matter to artists? Does it matter? Is this YouTube partisanship a social project, or is it
relevant to the working methods of net artists today? Specifically, I’m
looking for an answer that isn’t equally applicable to another format.

Ian Aleksander Adams June 22, 2011 at 10:28 pm

I like youtube as a medium but I don’t see a reason to use it for everything. happy with the service vimeo provides when I want to generate content for a sketchbook vs for everyone.

tom moody June 22, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Ian, I was kidding. These are Brand’s leading questions with YouTube substituted for GIF. My point being that his chosen medium is no less “partisan,” it’s just that it has the sanction of museums, major galleries, etc. so no one is asked to defend it.

Anonymous June 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I can’t make people be nice to each other on this blog but I wish people would make a greater effort.

Tim, I really don’t think it’s useful to chide someone who’s put a lot of work into understanding a issue down for not being well versed enough in tech. You could have added the bit about HTML5 without making the swipe at Tom.

Duncan, maybe you could answer Will’s question because Tom doesn’t want to. We’ve talked about it at the office but I don’t bring an artist’s perspective to the table and that’s the most valuable.

As far as corporations not being friendly to GIFs I think there’s sone truth to it. I don’t think there’s anything sinister like limiting creatives behind this – or at least I haven’t seen enough evidence to make that point. People migrated to facebook from myspace of their
own volition and my experience of that was that it was very much related to the aesthetics of class. Myspace was tacky and full of blinky GIFs and when my Canadian friends moved over (they were the first) they
always said it was because they liked the cleaner template look. Now, I’d argue GIFs very much appeal to people – they are all over tumblr and other spaces. Given the widespread interest, I’m sure there are companies who see profit potential out of that. Obviously though that has nothing to do with what an artist is interested in.

Anonymous June 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I can’t make people be nice to each other on this blog but I wish people would make a greater effort.

Tim, I really don’t think it’s useful to chide someone who’s put a lot of work into understanding a issue down for not being well versed enough in tech. You could have added the bit about HTML5 without making the swipe at Tom.

Duncan, maybe you could answer Will’s question because Tom doesn’t want to. We’ve talked about it at the office but I don’t bring an artist’s perspective to the table and that’s the most valuable.

As far as corporations not being friendly to GIFs I think there’s sone truth to it. I don’t think there’s anything sinister like limiting creatives behind this – or at least I haven’t seen enough evidence to make that point. People migrated to facebook from myspace of their
own volition and my experience of that was that it was very much related to the aesthetics of class. Myspace was tacky and full of blinky GIFs and when my Canadian friends moved over (they were the first) they
always said it was because they liked the cleaner template look. Now, I’d argue GIFs very much appeal to people – they are all over tumblr and other spaces. Given the widespread interest, I’m sure there are companies who see profit potential out of that. Obviously though that has nothing to do with what an artist is interested in.

Tim Whidden June 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm

You do your readers a disservice by linking to him as some sort of authority on the web (or art for that matter). This is simply uninformed, Chicken Little-esque gibberish:

‘forced corporate replacement of a universal, open source means of animation that almost anyone can make (GIFs) vs a type of animation that requires the coding skills’ 

tom moody June 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

It is certainly gibberish if you quote an incomplete sentence.

alex carlill June 18, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Paddy, I have no problem w/ Tom (or anyone else) not being well versed enough in tech. I take exception, however, to the fact that he makes a great many confident technical claims in his latest GIF/CSS sprite article that are simply incorrect. There’s absolutely nothing wrong w/ artists or critics not being particularly technical, but if that’s the case they should be more careful when writing about topics they don’t fully understand.

Michael Manning June 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I downloaded HYPE the HTML5 animator a week or so back to try it out, it sucks. It is pretty much just a bad and less capable version of flash (I’m sure things will get better as HTML5 gets older but HYPE isn’t replacing my GIF practice that is certain, especially with such a shitty loop function).

For all intents and purposes no one has posited a better solution to light weight animation online yet (at least in my mind, I know Tom would agree). HTML5 has a chance but it and its champions have different priorities in mind aside from giving us a better alternative to the GIF, and as interpret it, this is Tom’s beef. Not just that the technologies are changing but that the web “powers that be” are ostracizing the GIF, (for whatever reason, most likely because they think it is irrelevant, ugly and unnecessary) and they have failed to provide a better alternative in the wake of their shunning GIFs (most likely because they are too out of touch to recognize the groups of people online who still love them). HTML5 isn’t focused on giving us a new cool version of GIFs it’s primary goal is to replace the need for things like Flash, and more easily display video and long-form animation.

I however tend to agree with Duncan that the Google case is more likely a chance for them to show off their coding skills than anything else, but the overall disdain for the GIF by large web companies can be seen all over the web.

I’m open to alternatives, I’m happy to embrace a new, better format, but as of yet you simply can’t point me to a better light weight animation than the GIF, that I can make easily in free open source software (not that open source matters to me personally, but I know it does to others) or hey, even online ——>

Jesse P. Martin June 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Regarding the babies-prefer-Cubism item, I feel that this study somehow
relates (in a wildly tangential, different-species sorta way):

Or maybe it’s my response to the statement that “babies, whose minds have yet to be shaped by any sort of cultural indoctrination” is, um, probably total bullshit? I mean, if peering embryonic cuttlefish develop preferences/behaviors based solely on visual cues, why can’t we?

sally June 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm

har. I agree. Other senses (besides vision) convey cultural information, and other species (besides humans) experience cultural conditions.

Jesse P. Martin June 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Directly quoting an email from a friend who knows what she’s talking about:

“on babies prefer picasso, i don’t love this method (just as easy to do a
side-by-side spontaneous preference procedure…i’m suspicious that
they’re solely relying on a a null result to argue for spontaneous
preference…that’s suggestive but not definitive. that being said, of
course babies prefer picasso. this is nothing new. babies like things
that are high contrast. duh.

on cuttlefish embryos…so cool! humans can also learn (auditory information at least) before they’re born.”

Jesse P. Martin June 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm

me being he-who-knows-not-what-he’s-talking-about, btw

Jesse P. Martin June 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Though I would like to offer that cuttlefish are the animated GIFs of the sea.

Anonymous June 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Write a script to remove all mentions of Tom Moody from your AFC rss feed if it bothers you so much. You and I both know bloggers use posts to work out problems. They aren’t always finished or complete argument – but people can work it out in the comments. I’m not going to discuss Tom’s merits or lack there of – it’s clear we disagree.

alex carlill June 18, 2011 at 9:44 pm

My issue w/ Tom’s arguments isn’t that they’re incomplete but simply that large parts of his latest GIF/CSS article are, opinion aside, _factually_ incorrect. While Tim could have been more diplomatic about it he does have a point.

tom moody June 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Paddy, Will designed the web page for you that has links to many of my (and others’) writings on the subject of “why artists use GIFs”:

He knows the answers to my questions, he is being needlessly confrontational here.

As I said in one of the posts linked to on that page: “Have said before that I’m not married to the animated GIF for ‘artistic expression’ on the web. If at some point only of 40% of browsers, mobile devices, etc read them then it will be time to use something else.”

Michael Manning is correct that we use GIFs because they’re still the best for what they do–quick easily loaded animations that read on the most browsers. He’s also right that the big companies are phasing them out without offering a better alternative. Some of us like the “GIF aesthetic” of reduced frame rates, compression, etc, but that’s mainly a stylistic choice.

In light of “cinemagraphs” Reddit has a discussion on “successors to the animated GIF”: (hat tip Andrej)

That thread reiterates some of what has been said here but doesn’t mention CSS.

I wish in these shouting matches we could agree on some basic post-GIF nomenclature. I originally referred to Google’s Martha Graham animation as “html5 or canvas.” Will called it “CSS sprites and JavaScript to animate them”; then Tim Whidden went back to calling it HTML5. According to Wikipedia “A common misconception is that HTML5 can provide animation within web pages, which is untrue. Either JavaScript or CSS3 is necessary for animating HTML elements. Animation is also possible using JavaScript and HTML.”

I assume that Google’s animation was a combination of CSS and JavaScript–that isn’t automatically HTML5. Either way it is, as Michael Manning says, a “bad and less capable version of Flash.”

alex carlill June 18, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I don’t really understand what Moody’s aim was in making a relatively faithful GIF version of the Google animation. Sure, it looks fairly similar, but it also has a smaller colorspace and therefore, being only 10kB smaller, doesn’t really seem like an adequate demonstration of CSS sprite inferiority. This is not to say that I think the sprite approach was even necessary, but Moody’s hasn’t made the conclusive point he seems to think he has.

alex carlill June 19, 2011 at 12:14 am

The fact that Tom has “put a lot of work into understanding” the issue
doesn’t mean that one should ignore the gross factual inaccuracies
repeatedly presented by his blog posts on this subject. Moreover, given
his apparent history of intellectual dishonesty (viz. his casual
fabrication of Hype’s alleged claim to be “open source” in this thread), I don’t think a little cynicism is amiss in this regard.

Paddy, it seems inconsistent of you to scold Tim for being confrontational but
neglect to address Tom’s wholly unnecessary sarcasm re Will’s question –
a question which was, its merits aside, visibly asked in a sincere
& humble way. Why does Moody get a pass for his snideness, which you
so euphemistically portray as him simply “not wanting” to answer the question?

Tom Moody’s role right now seems to be to that of the idiot-king of net art (a
term he himself seems incapable of comprehending). The object of fear
and sycophancy in equal measure, he slouches in his 90s-aesthetic
open-source throne, dispensing pronouncements whose pomposity is matched only by their sheer petty-mindedness.

I’m at a loss as to why anyone bothers to take any of it even remotely seriously, let alone
_thank_ him for his vapid “contributions” – is it the fact that half a
decade ago he made a minutely influential GIF? Or perhaps the incoherent
“songs” he spews out at regular intervals which, astoundingly, are even
less complete than his arguments? I’m being vitriolic only because I
feel that Tom Moody is a poison to the net art scene, one which infects
our discourse with paranoia and pedantry whilst doing its utmost to hold
back progress. He does little more, after all, than stand athwart
history yelling cliché complaints about various multinationals; god knows there are enough of those on the internet already…

Tom Moody, ultimately, is the old guard of net art – I’m not saying this in
an ageist sense (though he is, evidently, getting old) but it is beyond
reasonable doubt the case that where once, a long time ago, he used to
be part of a vanguard, he is now its opposite. It’s time to move on.

Dragan Espenschied June 19, 2011 at 7:34 am

Attempting to make something useful from this:

As far as I understand, Tom criticized the Googles for doing lots of complicated stuff in order to show this dance animation instead of putting the same effort into creating a simple GIF. He didn’t criticize them for wasting bandwidth or other “technical” reasons, this came later in exploring their motives and thinking about other new (and more complex) ways moving images can be transferred online today and trying to make sense of them.

Tim’s reply, that GIFs are regarded as simple and the mere mortals can create GIFs only because there is software that allows them to do so, is of course true — however the software is there in bucketloads, it doesn’t only theoretically exist in the future 🙂 GIFs are files that are definitely easier to understand and handle than Google’s scripting. If the animation would be a GIF, one could for example take the animation and post it to some forum or whatever, change the colors, play it backwards, etc. There is effectively not so much difference between the source material and the finished version to create a serious obstacle to work with it. So, a GIF would have been, also to my understanding, adequate to the spirit of the web. On the other hand, there is no tool for re-creating the source material from Google’s animation “compiled” to Javascript. Of course it can be done, there is no standard way of doing so though. And it wouldn’t make sense to create a tool that would do it because it is unlikely that Google or anybody else will use this exact technique, producing similar output, again.

The quite confrontational remarks that Tom doesn’t know enough about the web and its technology are probably exactly the core of he issue. Tom’s general question *is* why the hell one should have to know so much arbitrary stuff about the web to understand how a conceptually primitive animation is made. Does it mean only developers, who know every in and out of the latest tech, Google’s organization and internally used tools, are allowed to interpret this piece of online art? These questions have nothing to do with Tom’s age, his music or how often he checks his Twitter. The user facing web used to be simple yet powerful, it is made more complex and diffiult to understand, especially in an area where it seems completely arbitrary; what is the driving force behind this, how does it affect artistic expression and evaluation?

In general I think Tom’s critique of the animation is exactly this: a critique, and interpretation of an artwork. And the seemingly superfluous complexity of it is part of the interpretation. Based on Google’s artistic output to the world, he made an attempt to understand what are Google’s motives, how they see their role and the role of their users.

And while Tom is pinned down on technical inaccuracy, nobody else seems bold enough to make definite technical counter claims. Maybe because there is so much potential for getting stuff wrong?

Technically, there is in many cases a right way to do something to achieve a verifiable goal. There are certain tricks to make web pages load faster, animations look smoother, etc. So let’s assume that Google managed to save some bytes by delivering the animation in the means they decided to and therefore saved some money.

Culturally, however, there is not one right way to do stuff. Different choices, also in trechnology, express different things.

Interestingly, while animator, coreographer and dancer are credited for the dance animation, the “developer” is not, see (as long as it is listed under this URI). That probably means that somebody assumed that technology can be transparently applied here and “just” has to deliver the animation in the most effective way or something. As it turns out, this is not the case. So, if Google are not consciously widening the gap between professionals and users, they are at least naive.

I love you all by the way!

alex carlill June 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Dragan, while Tom may have begun by criticizing the artistic aspects of the image, his two most recent posts have focused largely on the technical and I therefore feel that addressing his many mistakes in this area is a useful contribution to the debate. I think you’re deeply mistaken in suggesting that an understanding of the back-end of animations is necessary to critique them adequately – does one need to be an expert in chemical pigmentation and chromatography in order to comment on paintings? The idea, therefore, that one needs to be any kind of “expert” – though, as I have attempted to explain, this is a misnomer given the simplicity of the techniques used – in order to be “allowed” to talk about the online art in question is inexplicable and not one I’m convinced many would agree w/.

I also think it’s disingenuous to extrapolate from this debate – which after all is a very specific one – to concerns of general decline in the usability of the web. As someone who doesn’t know any HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python or indeed any other markup, scripting, or programming language, I’m fairly happy w/ things as they are, and you should refrain from expressing the situation in terms of false binaries, such as this imaginary chasm between casual user/professional programmer.

As I’ve clearly stated several times in this thread now – I’m beginning to lose hope that the message will ever get through – my criticisms of Tom are _not_ based on a belief that those who lack significant technical knowledge should not discuss such matters at all. I merely think that one should refrain from making _factual_ statements about clear and specific technical aspects when one lacks – as Moody visibly does – either the knowledge or the intellectual honesty to answer w/ at least a modicum of accuracy. Moody’s latest and longest post on the subject of the doodle ( is a critique and interpretation of it, yes, but of its technical aspects (and the motives underlying Google’s choices in this area) rather than its artistic ones. You do, Dragan, have a point when you say that there have, as of yet, been no technical counter-claims; I’ll try to answer this below. On that note I should make clear that my comment about how often Tom checks his twitter replies was not intended as a pejorative insinuation – on the contrary, I was saying that I believed Tom’s failure to reply to my messages on there was simply due to the fact that he hadn’t yet come across them, rather than any intent to ignore on his part.

As for the technical points:

1. Tom claims that CSS sprite animation requires “coding skills”. This is not true – as I explain above, I have no prior knowledge of CSS or JavaScript and yet fully understood how to create these animations after less than five minutes’ reading. The fact that this reading was of an article Tom had linked to in the first place only underlines the problematic intellectual dishonesty I described in my last post – how could he link to an article that demonstrates the ease of CSS sprite animation whilst believing that it represented some sort of significant challenge? Either he doesn’t understand the pages he himself links to, or he’s choosing to ignore facts that don’t support his claims. I’m not sure which possibility is worse.

2. Given how easy it is to create CSS sprite animations, and the proliferation of freelance programmers/designers on the net, Tom’s casual claim that most of those capable are in the employ of “big companies” is highly unlikely to be true.

3. “This doesn’t even include the copious javascript and css commands necessary to animate/display the sheet” (from “animating martha graham”) is a statement emblematic of Moody’s profound ignorance in this area. Animating a CSS sprite requires, at most, 2 lines of code per frame, which is hardly “copious” – it’s improbable that the JavaScript required to animate even long and unlooped sprites could usually exceed 2kB.

I understand that Tom likes to show off his technical “knowledge” and his fearless opposition to the Man & I know he’s unlikely to ever stop – but everyone else should stop enabling him. It would be nice to think that the shining lights of net art criticism can think of something better to do than neurotically lash out at easy targets like Google – how about writing some real art criticism, Tom, rather than facile anti-corporate screeds?

tom moody June 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Your critique of my critique boils down to one point–it was easy for you to make a CSS sprite animation. Congratulations on ballooning this up to Biblical proportions through constant, loud repetition about my “inaccuracy.” I said that Google’s Martha Graham animation required coding skills. Duncan Alexander, above says, “Google likes to show off what their programmers can do with simple code.” If anyone can do it, then it’s not showing off.
As for all Google’s JavaScript and CSS coding instructions to animate the Martha Graham dance being 2 kilobytes, where is your proof of this?

alex carlill June 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm

It doesn’t “boil down to one point” nor did I claim to have made a CSS sprite animation; moreover, I don’t think the man who has turned a minor Google design element into an obsession should really be attempting to mock anyone else’s “ballooning”…

Also, you didn’t simply say that Google’s Martha Graham animation required “coding skills” – although even this is incorrect, you claimed that such animation required “the coding skills of web specialists, who are mostly in the employ of big companies.” – which suggests something complex and challenging. I am by no means a web specialist and yet am ably capable – as are most people – of creating CSS sprite animations. As for the size issue

I like GIFs and have little interest in sprite animations from an artistic point of view, but to base aspects of this debate on falsehoods is pointless. Moreover by continuing to misrepresent the facts and selectively repeat the views of others you’re hardly showing yrself to be any more intellectually honest than I’ve suggested so far.

As for the size of the code required to animate the dance, I just checked the source of the page ( & found the animation code to be 3359 characters long, or 3kB if uncompressed (which I assume JS is). So I wasn’t too far off the mark.

I realise, Tom, that it’s considerably easier to distort & dismiss my arguments rather than rebut them, but it’s far from impressive and does nothing to improve yr rapidly diminishing credibility/relevance.

Michael Manning June 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm
alex carlill June 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm

One more thing – far from “making something useful” of this, when you say “On
the other hand, there is no tool for re-creating the source material
from Google’s animation “compiled” to Javascript.” you do nothing more
than demonstrate yr own ignorance. Due to the very nature of CSS sprite
animation – which is based on alternately displaying different sections
of a _single_ image – obtaining every frame (which is what I assume you
mean by “source”) is very easy, as fact that Moody links to it suggests :

tom moody June 19, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Dragan, Alex Carlill just called you ignorant.

Jesse P. Martin June 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm
tom moody June 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm

“…Biblical…” (hat tip j1p2m3)

Anonymous June 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm

3 things I think:

1.] Imho the vigorous discussion that Tom Moody has often sparked in the net art scene is vital and great – proof that the scene is filled with passion and has lots of peoples potentials, ideas, and dreams in it. Conflict prevents stagnation.

2.] In defense of Tom’s critique of the google animation: I showed this article to a heavy duty web programmer friend of mine and he told me that while not necessarily agreeing with all the content, he really appreciated the article because it brought up interesting points that he had not considered. Tom’s criticism often examines things in different lights than the regular. 

3.] Your attack on Tom Moody’s contributions to net art is pretty shitty – I can personally say that he has greatly contributed to my curiosity and love for it. 

alex carlill June 21, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I agree that Moody has done a lot for net art in the past. My point is that he longer seems to be advancing discourse at all, and I’m put off by his reliance on misquoting others and fabricating things to suit his claims. 

alex carlill June 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Indeed much of the harshness of my criticism is based on the fact that he is, or used to be, capable of much better, and it’s frustrating that based on his past success he’s still treated as relevant.

Anonymous June 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Hey Alex,

Sorry I wasn’t able to respond to this earlier. I only had net access this weekend via my phone and it was inconsistent at best. 

There’s a lot more conversation that’s happened since this note, but to answer the part of the question that directly relates to me: Tim got the scolding because he was telling me what I should and shouldn’t write about. That probably doesn’t cross a line of inappropriateness but it definitely makes me uncomfortable. I think it’s probably all in the phrasing. 

As far as not being more aggressive with Tom and his conversation with Will, keep in mind that he is the Associate Editor of this blog and has a long comment history with Tom. So, yes, I could scold Tom for needlessly interpreting Will’s words as aggressive, but in doing so I step on Will’s toes and make Tom feel like he’s being ganged up on. I decided there were more negatives than positives in that scenario, and moderated accordingly. 

As for your own comments, while you’ve done well to expand your critique of Tom’s post over the weekend, I ask that you try to remember that you are talking to actual people, who have feelings. You’ve made some thoughtful comments, but in the process called others “idiot-kings”, “ignorant”, and “intellectually dishonest”. Even if all of these things were correct, naming them all would still be a bad starting point for a conversation. They only benefit the commenter. 

Anyway, I’d be curious to hear how the values of the “the old guard” and “the new guard”, differ, as this is another evaluation proffered without support. 

As for Google’s motivations, I’ve placed a press inquiry with the company, so we can get their official position on the Martha Graham GIF, and GIFs in general. Hopefully that will help answer a few questions. 

Tim Whidden June 20, 2011 at 6:47 pm

I’ll continue to assert that linking to Tom Moody is a disservice to your readers.

FWIW The most probable reason that Google used CSS sprites instead of an animated GIF is the lack of mobile browser support for animated GIFs (especially large ones). The most improbable reason? Some conspiracy by Google and other tech giants to quash the plucky format.

Tying Google’s tech choices re: their doodles to policies against GIFs on their other sites (like Blogger) is naive (and, frankly, stupid). Facebook, Twitter (& whomever else) block animated GIFs for 1 reason (which you already mentioned): they don’t want to be Myspace.

It is a shame (in so far as the expressive qualities of the animated GIF format go) that they’re blocked on the web’s most popular services. But, in my opinion this isn’t causing much harm. There seems as much ground-up creativity on the web as there ever was (perhaps more).

Anonymous June 20, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I don’t think we disagree about anything here, past linking to Tom. I said in the post that I didn’t have much to offer on the tech end, and that I was more interested in Tom’s “what’s at stake” explanation, but I didn’t agree with it. I guess I could have been more clear that what’s happening to GIFs seems a little like the Polaroid problem to me. People still make the film, but it’s impossible to find. Not being able to shoot Polaroid doesn’t mean that artists will stop being creative, but it does mean they may have to switch mediums if it’s no longer practical. That will be more painful to some artists than others.

tom moody June 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm

“Tying Google’s tech choices re: their doodles to policies against GIFs
on their other sites (like Blogger) is naive (and, frankly, stupid).” If we don’t know why Google blocks GIFs in one arm of its company and pushes other animation methods in another (and we don’t), why is it automatically naive to consider connections between the two? More is at stake here than the type of “film” we use; it is completely fair to consider an across-the-board GIF phase-out in the larger context of the Web becoming a more controlled and controllable place (see my comment to Duncan below). “They don’t want to be MySpace” is also pure speculation.

alex carlill June 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm


I see what you’re getting at re Tim, though I think what he was saying could also be interpreted as frustration over the factual failures of Tom’s post. I agree w/ both of you on this, in the sense that I wouldn’t presume to tell you what to write about but I think the link could have benefitted from being accompanied w/ some sort of disclaimer. I don’t think Tom should be shut out of the debate, I just think linking to a post could convey the assumption that you consider the post valid.

As for my own criticism of Tom – I agree that it was aggressive, and feel I should explain myself on this front. I would tend to agree w/ you that this type of criticism is usually unhelpful – in terms of its effect on the debate as well as the emotional distress it might cause others. The language I chose to describe Tom w/ was chosen partly out of frustration and partly out of the feeling that it was, given his own style of response to critics, necessary. I rarely attack people like this – in fact I think in this thread I’ve answered several other disagreements in a pleasant way – but I think in very occasional cases it can actually be a positive. Finally, while “idiot-king” and “ignorant” are undoubtedly unpleasant terms, I think “intellectually dishonest” is a fair thing to say even in entirely non-ad-hominem arguments, as long as it’s stated calmly & a statement based on evidence rather than a facile attack. 

The old/new guard thing was more an expression of the fact that I felt Moody specifically has lost relevance than a general claim of a relatively clear dichotomy in the net art scene. There may or may not be one – I’m not sure – but in any case I don’t, at this point in time, have a knowledge of net art that’s detailed enough to analyze the situation in this regard. If there is, I think it’ll crystallize over the next year or two, but again I don’t really have the energy to support that right now (if it even is based on anything more than a gut feeling).

A press inquiry is a good idea – as I’ve said, I suspect we’ll get an answer similar to what Duncan’s said. After all, Google is a company that’s full of geeks and is, in theory at least, based on innovation, so I don’t think it’s even a case of them “showing off” so much as doing it because they could, for their own entertainment as much as anything else.

Anonymous June 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm

As I mentioned below, Google did respond this afternoon, though they didn’t offer me many technical details: 

“We implemented this animation technique in our doodle celebrating Martha Graham for better control of the user experience.”

I think this is probably enough though to draw the conclusion that it is a decision made for consistant display on mobile devices, laptops, and their browsers. 

As for the rest, thanks for this response. I’ll wait for a day in the event Duncan hears from Google or I get more technical details but I will close the comments on this post shortly. I don’t want the fighting to go on forever. 

Anonymous June 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm

As I mentioned below, Google did respond this afternoon, though they didn’t offer me many technical details: 

“We implemented this animation technique in our doodle celebrating Martha Graham for better control of the user experience.”

I think this is probably enough though to draw the conclusion that it is a decision made for consistant display on mobile devices, laptops, and their browsers. 

As for the rest, thanks for this response. I’ll wait for a day in the event Duncan hears from Google or I get more technical details but I will close the comments on this post shortly. I don’t want the fighting to go on forever. 

tom moody June 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Dragan, thanks, you are brave to come on here and risk getting slimed.
Alex–chill. You have seven comments on this thread all saying pretty much the same thing. As I glanced through them, I kept thinking you were going to correct my “inaccuracies,” and then you didn’t.
As for “casual fabrication” or “intellectual dishonesty,” as noted above, the “open source” crack was in reply to Tim Whidden, not Tumult Hype. He suggested that “anyone” could make an animation for the “open” HTML5 standard using current authoring tools, and linked to Tumult Hype as an example. I was pointing out that you can only buy it in the Apple App Store, hardly the nerve center of distributed authoring.
As for my being curt to Will, you must have missed the earlier threads where he repeatedly got up in my face, as you’re doing now. After a fair bit of that, I decided to try not conversing with him directly. (It’s not working very well.)
OK, time to return to my lair and think up new ways to poison “the net art scene.”

alex carlill June 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm

I have, actually, corrected a number of your inaccuracies – as a number of people in this thread, namely Paddy, have recognized. My comments haven’t said “pretty much the same thing” – I have, repeatedly, accused you of intellectual dishonesty – something you have yet to abandon – but that aside I’ve made several clearly defined points. 

Meanwhile, while I agree that Tumult Hype isn’t open, I don’t really see why HTML5 isn’t – what’s yr justification for this? The fact that it’s currently a niche area of expertise, or something else? 

tom moody June 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Sorry, just noticed that Alex says he has enumerated the “inaccuracies” in my post on his Twitter page. I don’t follow it (should I?) so, yes, by all means post them here so they can be read/evaluated/responded to by those looking at this thread. You might also respond to Dragan Espenschied and Michael Manning who have made some good points here.

Duncan Alexander June 19, 2011 at 9:39 pm

From Will – “Outside of that, a more general question, which you’re free to answer here or on your blog or not at all: why do GIFs matter to artists? Do they matter? Is this GIF partisanship a social project, or is it relevant to the working methods of net artists today? Specifically, I’m looking for an answer that isn’t equally applicable to another format.”

GIFs are:
*Supported by all major browsers (though in slightly different ways)
*More complex in formal qualities than a still image, but less complex than a video (no sound, much shorter duration. I can get more into this from an art theory perspective if you want)
*Limited in palette and size, which can drive creativity
*Files in and of themselves, as opposed to webpages which are scripts for displaying aggregates of files
*Infinite loops made out of frames with varying durations (different temporal “space” than videos)
*Image files that support basic alpha transparency (the ubiquitous JPGs do not, PNGs fully support alpha but are generally less established as a filetype)

The question of “GIF partisanship” is invalid because a coded spritesheet is not the same thing as a GIF. If you saw the lunar eclipse doodle the other day, it demonstrated more of a “flipbook” approach with the slider that controlled the moon’s phase. GIFs as files either loop or they don’t, there’s no tweaking them on the fly, no interactivity. Most voices in the debate so far have not acknowledged that it’s apples and oranges to compare GIFs to code hacks or videos or still images. It’s an artistic choice to work with GIFs like it is to work in watercolors over acrylics, and  like the runny fades of watercolors GIFs have their own qualities that they bring to the table.

As for working methods, this is where the thesis of our discussion is called to question. I have been rereading the associated blog posts, tweets, and threads and have come to the conclusion that we need a clearer statement as to what we’re debating. Here’s what I think is the intended topic:

Google has recently displayed animations on its homepage that are executed using a spritesheet and Javascript, rather than using a common filetype (a GIF, a video, etc.). The required knowledge to produce an animation using the technique is much more technical than what it takes to produce work in the common filetypes, and at the same time Google has begun to reduce their usage of GIFs specifically. Google’s motives are thus called into question, as the GIF is a generally user-accessible and unlicensed filetype that supposedly would work “just as well” for the same purpose.

If I’m assessing this correctly as our topic, here are my opinions (some reiterated) in bullet point form:

* Google used a flipbook rather than a GIF because a GIF would keep looping, whereas Google wanted the animation to end once the page loads, every time the page loads. This is why using a GIF is not the same thing as using a flipbook.

* GIFs are losing corporate support because the formal qualities (limited color, alpha and timing control) are undesirable to contemporary professional web designers. (I think the big push from Adobe for Flash as a standard figures in as well, but I’m not very knowledgeable on that debate.)

* More websites than ever use multi-layered, complex code, but most often this is done in the interest of improving architecture and efficiency (HTML was not developed as a graphical standard, HTML5 and the many addons to HTML such as CSS supplement that deficiency).

* It is unclear as to why a newer filetype has not replaced the GIF, but I suspect that it has something to do with the impossibility of getting cross-browser support these days and a general fatigue for adding new filetypes to the common repertoire. Look at CSS – it was developed in 1996, adopted partially by all major browsers by 1999, and still does not have full support across all browsers. If something so pivotal to the graphical nature of the web still divides browser development (and therefore website development), why should we expect more from an image filetype? Initial support for the GIF most likely came from the fact that it was the *only* way to display animation on the web efficiently, and as time went by many people began to appreciate the quirky non-video characteristics of the file. Nowadays we have many ways to display animation and so it’s not so much a priority to the powers-that-be.

To wrap all of this up, I went out on a limb and emailed Google with a few questions about their doodles. It’s a stretch, but I think that their team would have a lot more to say from a technical perspective than we are likely to hash out. If we’re lucky I’ll post the response.

Will Brand June 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Thanks for this. I didn’t mean for it to be an aggressive question – I meant for it to be an easy question, actually, and kind of reset things to a baseline as they got heated – so it’s nice to get a thoughtful reply. 

I think the formal discussion – as you say, the choice to use GIFs as the choice between acrylic and watercolor – was pretty well handled by Tom and me, with plenty of examples, in both this and the last thread. I get (and got) that. All of which is not to say that I like your reply any less, or that it is any less an excellent statement of the motives behind this medium. 

The crux of my question was meant to be the second part – the turn Tom took from form to politics, and whether that changed things. That is to say, whether GIFs were important to preserve outside the bounds of art-making (“as a social project”), since the urgency of Tom’s argument (here as elsewhere) didn’t seem to make sense in the context of form. 

As for obsolescence: 
My introduction to BASIC was in 1996. I was 7, and BASIC was 32. My mom, then teaching computer science to Army technicians, taught me how to make the computer say hello, and how to make it do math, and she taught me in a language that was by any measure obsolete. It compiled. It executed. I might never have known it was ancient. 

BASIC is now 47, and all that’s still true. It can still create executables that run in modern environments. And why not? It’s just a way of structuring instructions, just a particular organization of data. GIFs aren’t going away. Too much has been done in the format, too much work has gone into building support for it in image processing software and browsers, and as you say, there’s no widely-supported atomic alternative. You’re absolutely right that it’s a shitload of trouble to go to, replacing GIFs, and there’s no clear reward for it, for anyone. 

Designers finding GIFs unsuitable for their purposes does not mean GIFs will be erased from the internet entirely. Web developers – on, for instance, Facebook – are a greater threat, but at best can only damage the popularity of the medium. Browser developers have no reason to remove GIF support, and many reasons not to. 

So then. Maybe another series of questions:

If your artwork – your GIFs – continue to exist and function and be visible on all browsers, but are no longer used by the web public generally, is that bad? Now, there are plenty of GIFs that reference GIF culture in general or other GIFs in particular, and so would benefit from their continued popularity, but I don’t know that those relationships *could* be preserved in a vital, immediate sense any more than the symbolism in, say, Italian Renaissance painting. This is, as I see it, the worst case scenario under present discussion.

If GIFs stopped being supported by browsers, but your GIFs could be translated painlessly, with identical pixels, to the new cross-browser atomic lossless raster animation format (a category of file for which there will always be a need), would that be a problem? Is there something about the compression algorithms or name or history of the format that needs to remain? I guessed ‘no’ in the last thread, and never really got a response to that. We are, however, at least 10 years from this situation.

I’m terrifically excited to see which part of this comment shows up on Tom’s blog.

tom moody June 25, 2011 at 11:52 am

These questions are too speculative. If what you’ve called GIF partisanship exists or has a purpose, it is to make “web developers” aware of what they’re thoughtlessly phasing out before it happens. Suffice it to say, the new AFC meme of automatically equating GIFs with ugly MySpace design isn’t what I’d call partisanship.

tom moody June 19, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Duncan, this is great. It’s not an apples and oranges debate though, or people wouldn’t be yelling so much. Google doesn’t mean to replace GIFs with another filetype people can share and take apart and play with. On its flagship search page it is clearly presenting its vision of a “one way web” crafted by its owners where the terms of your interaction are “click here” and “save your results.” To consider the political dimension isn’t conspiracy theory or empty railing against the man, it’s a question of what kind of internet (and therefore, life) we want to have.

Anonymous June 21, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Maybe Duncan will get a more detailed answer to his question, but still, I think Google’s response makes clear that in this case, the decision to use a GIF had to with wanting an image that would display consistently across both mobile and desktop platforms? 

“We implemented this animation technique in our doodle celebrating Martha Graham for better control of the user experience.”

alex carlill June 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm

that makes sense – “better control of the user experience” is somewhat vague but I think yr reading of it is the correct one.

another potential reason they chose it – which I don’t think has been discussed here yet – is the fact that GIFs are limited to 256 colors. that’s fine for art, especially since it uses the small colorspace as an asset rather than a limitation, but given that all Google’s logos, graphics etc are presumably in a larger colorspace, it seems plausible that using a 256-color GIF just wouldn’t look completely _right_ in this context.

there isn’t really any other technical advantage to be gained from using CSS sprite animation rather than GIFs in this case. what sprites are genuinely useful for is animations/buttons w/ many repeated frames, as they can save a lot of bandwidth. so while CSS sprites are a good tool they are, generally speaking, more useful in a UI context rather than an artistic one.

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stamped concrete patio

⠧⠕⠅⠕⠙⠁ June 22, 2011 at 8:39 am

 ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï

⠧⠕⠅⠕⠙⠁ June 22, 2011 at 8:40 am

 ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿ï

John Briner Art June 22, 2011 at 1:36 pm

We all know that, John Chamberlain is a famous American Sculptor and I found his sculptures very mind blowing and interesting. I also check the Pace Gallery and his masterpieces was heavenly sent! I totally favorite them all!

Jesse P. Martin June 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm

RIGHT?! It’s like god himself crushed some old cars together and placed them lovingly & concurrently in *two* megachurch-like galleries. Good to hear that (forced/planned) obsolescence hasn’t seemed to impact the *real* artworld at all!

sally June 20, 2011 at 6:03 pm

cuttlefish camoflage is awesome. It’s like they can see themselves from above.

tom moody June 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm

If an obsession is five posts and a couple of GIFs over the span of about a month, then yes, I’m obsessed. Maybe not as obsessed as you are with me, though.
You may have noticed I update my blog posts as I learn new information.

alex carlill June 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I have noticed that you occasionally update yr blog posts w/ information. Tellingly, you have yet to update yr GIF post to correct the numerous technical errors that I’ve point out.

sally June 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm

The “Web becoming more controlled and controllable” is a good thing to worry about. GIFs are the canary in the coal mine. It’s not that the Google & Fuckbook CEOs are sitting around at the BBQ plotting how to get rid of GIFs, but they are creating an environment where GIFs will be less ubiquitous. As a symbol for user agency GIFs are pretty good. But the user agency is more important than the GIF itself. Personally I like the social media model of reddit and metafilter – no images at all, but plenty of links to jpegs, GIFs and video.

tom moody June 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Canary–agreed. Also, artists clinging to GIFs like photographers to Polaroid film doesn’t adequately explain the GIF mania on tumblr, dump, and other current sites.

Anonymous June 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm

It’s an imperfect metaphor but then, I’m not the one complaining that corporations are trying to beat down the little guy. Couldn’t the current GIF mania on these sites offer proof that some corporations aren’t trying to do this? 

tom moody June 21, 2011 at 2:41 pm

We’re talking about Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook vs tumblr and dump? Sorry if the populist message seems “off” to you; I think I’m on pretty solid ground here, ethically.

Anonymous June 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Tumblr has 819 million in vc funding and over 20 million blogs. As of this year, they host more blogs than Wordpress. It’s not exactly a small mom and pop shop. 

As for Facebook, I think this mashable post is a good starting point for a discussion on why large companies have made the decisions they do:

I really don’t think there’s anything more insidious going on here than a desire to make money by creating products more people will use. Unfortunately, what this means is a constant rise to the middle, but that’s a problem that’s been around for much longer than the Internet.

tom moody June 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I mentioned tumblr and dump because many users there are making GIFs for the first time, long after they were “discontinued,” as opposed to clinging to an old form. Tumblr also gets its share of complaints re: GIF handling. Not sure why I keep getting lumped in with the insidious conspiracy straw man camp. I would say it’s underexamined groupthink at the top.

Anonymous June 21, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Okay, that makes sense to me. I will stop lumping you into the insidious straw man camp. 

Michael Manning June 21, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I love the aesthetics brought about by the nesting of this comment thread 🙂 we should keep going until you can barely see the boxes

alex carlill June 21, 2011 at 6:51 pm

net artists making net art to talk about to make net art is the new taking drugs to make music to take drugs to

alex carlill June 21, 2011 at 6:54 pm

nested comments thread
indents inexorably
soon only columns.

Anonymous June 21, 2011 at 8:45 pm

We’ll see about that. Google’s official response TK.

Michael Manning June 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm

smaller and smaller further and further 

Anonymous June 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm

At this point the profile formatting just goes to hell. 

Michael Manning June 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm


⠧⠕⠅⠕⠙⠁ June 22, 2011 at 8:38 am

. ˥̛̛̛̥̲̩̩̥̩̲̲̲̥̩̩̩̩̲̲̥̲̱̅͆̿͆͆˩̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̛̲̥̥̲̲̲̩̩̥̩̲̥̲̲̲̲̥̲̲̥̲̩̩̩̩̲̩̩̩̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅̅͆̅͆̅˥. ˩̱̩̥˥̩̩̲̅̅˩̛̛̛̥̩̲̱̲̲̲̲̲̥̥̥̅̅̅̅̿

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