julius brutus June 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm

On the Iranian gif exhibition, it would have been nice to hear more about the Iranian artists. Your article is just press for the usual name-brand net artists we are used to.

Eesh — sorry — I didn’t mean to sound so negative! It’s great to hear that Anthony Antonellis, Lorna Mills, Fach and Asendorf, Jennifer Chan and Jeremy f*cking Bailey have all grasped the brass ring of an international art career. Given the opportunity, you can always count on these people to say exactly nothing. F&A really go out on a limb with their GIF, tackling the uneasy relationships between fast food and “die schwarze” in a way that only a German could do.

Given the theme of images that “speak beyond their bitrates”, one must wonder whether curator Daniel Rourke has any idea what bandwidth is like in Tehran. Can he find Iran on an unmarked Google map? Maybe he thinks the Shiraz is somewhere on the Yellow Tail farms in Australia. Let me crack out these grainy satellite photographs of unmarked boxes and tell you what you’re really looking at.

In particular, Jennifer Chan’s GIF hits home — like in the godless west, Iranian identity is “built on shared stories, interests, and even clichés” and not on anything sticky and geopolitical. If we can all hold hands, maybe nobody will be able to push the button and that’s what it’s all about, right? Stuff a beer in a plate of basmati rice and call it a day.

Paddy Johnson June 5, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Hi Julius,

Thanks for the feedback. I was conscious when I was writing about the piece that the people I responded to most were also the best known. I’m glad you mentioned this as an issue though, because I think the piece would have been improved by pointing some of these artists out. I’ll be more aware of that next time.

I agree with your take on Daniel Rourke and love your interpretation of Chan’s piece.

tom moody June 7, 2014 at 5:51 pm

I’m a bit confused about GIFBites in the context of this exhibition. I first learned about GIFBites shortly after its inception as a jointly hosted tumblr-soundcloud project. It was written about on the Disquiet website in December 2012 and I made some comments about it at that stage. See http://disquiet.com/2012/12/12/the-sound-of-gifs/
It looks like anyone could submit a proposal and Rourke had been selecting one each week since late 2012. This might explain why so many familiar “net art” names showed up in the roster. Paddy’s Artnet review makes it seem as if this was a project generated in connection with an Iranian art show, and that it was conceived as a stand-alone online “exhibit” but I don’t think that’s the case. It appears more likely that curators in the Iranian space invited Rourke to “show his tumblr,” and that’s all this is. Fach & Asendorf’s GIF-with-sound is pretty damned horrible work (yet, from what Asendorf suggests on twitter, it would not violate community norms regarding racial caricature in Europe — really?), but far worse things pop up on tumblr and dump.fm all the time, and no one holds them to a very high standard, art-quality-wise. Not sure that “being in a show in an art space,” in Iran or anywhere else, makes that any different.

Paddy Johnson June 7, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Hey Tom,

The exhibition loop doesn’t include all the submissions, of which there are over 70. So, while that’s not a huge whittling down, there was definitely some curation to the project. That loop, not the archive, is the exhibition, which is why I reviewed it like a curated show.

tom moody June 7, 2014 at 7:35 pm

The Artnet article headline calls it an “Iranian GIF exhibition” and you use that phrase in the post above. That perhaps raises some confusion about what you’re reviewing, and raises unnecessary issues re: the inclusion or proportion of “Iranian” content. The project predated the show — GIFBites had its own independent life and concept. Whittling 70 GIFs from a tumblr down to 50 and making them into a slideshow is pretty slight grooming as far as exhibit-making goes. (Not that you can’t consider it an exhibit.) Even harder to turn it into an “Iranian show,” fully accountable as such, with such minimal, late-stage changes.

Paddy Johnson June 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Good point. I changed the description so it’s less confusing.

I think the tiling of the gifs was thoughtful; every gif was displayed differently, and it looked like there was a fair amount of customization there. That separates the show from slideshow territory for me.

I didn’t get into the presentation too much in the review, but I did wonder if the slideshow format could have been improved by doing things like customizing the length between each slide. I mean, almost no one is going to spend 30 minutes straight online watching the slideshow particularly with standardized settings like that. My sense though, is that there was no expectation that an audience would spend all that time there. That’s realistic and probably how a lot of GIFS are viewed anyway.

I guess where I’m going with this, is that I wasn’t sure what the alternative for viewing the show online would be, so I didn’t pick on that too much. And I definitely preferred the exhibition loop to the archive not just for the tiling but because it looped all the sound files. Those touches made a pretty big difference to my viewing experience of the show.

Daniel Rourke June 10, 2014 at 9:01 am

Hello Paddy, Tom. Just a minor clarification about the ‘curation’ of this.

I personally sourced 50 new works from artists for the Bitrates show. I only had a couple I had saved from previous submissions. I had just over a week to do this, for various political/bureaucratic/practical reasons. When the gallery asked if they could extend the GIFbites project for its own run we also sourced 3 GIFbites from Iranian artists (sadly, we didn’t get as many responses as we’d have liked. There is talk of opening it up to Iranian submissions on a larger scale at some point in the future).

Thanks for the responses. It’s been a lot of fun seeing the show(s) disseminated.

Paddy Johnson June 10, 2014 at 9:25 am

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for this clarification. Very helpful.

tom moody June 7, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Work and thought clearly went into the “slide show” and it is a better presentation than a tumblr. Essentially Rourke re-created the old YTMND format of combining a GIF with a sound clip into a full page “media” experience. With more variations than simple evenly spaced tiles to make it fullscreen. Also you can click through at your own rate, using the “infinity” icon. The “slide show” format solved the problems I was mentioning on the Disquiet thread in 2012 — having side by side media from two hosts was awkward. However, the “slide show” also makes this more of a video event than a GIF event, but that’s another conversation.

Paddy Johnson June 9, 2014 at 10:32 am

The YTMND format is an excellent comparison.

tom moody June 8, 2014 at 11:12 am

After Paddy’s review came out, GIF Bites added the “infinity icon” that allows the user to click off a page and move to another.

The original “white castle review” video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcGed-fkvak#t=5m38s

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