Back in 2011, when I started interning at Art F City, Paddy was working on the exhibition Graphics Interchange Format for Denison University. Sure, I thought I knew a bit about GIFs, but with the exhibition and its ensuing website, I was thrown into a richly inventive niche culture—and then I realized I was a n00b, and had no idea who most of the artists in the exhibition were. There were, for example, the Spirit Surfers, a “secret society of web-surfing monks.” You’re looking “Blue Willow,” an anonymously posted GIF that comes from their site.
But what is a Spirit Surfer? From the Graphics Interchange Format catalog:
The same year , Kevin Bewersdorf founded Spirit Surfers with Paul Slocum, a group image blog, in which a small number of invited artists post regularly. In contrast to MTAA, a collective that very squarely identifies what they do as art, Bewersdorf considers the posted images neither art nor non-art. But, in a sense the very structure of the Spirit Surfer blog resembles art: all posts are separated into “boons” and “wakes” – or, perhaps, “objects” and “context”. The former are treasures brought back from a day of surfing the net, the latter images, text, or video identifying where the boons come from. Whether or not all posts should be labeled art is, of course, up to Spirit Surfers’s contributors to decide.