By Jessica Brodeur
VANCOUVER — The Internet has forever changed many aspects of life: dating, banking, social connections and sharing filtered pictures of Starbucks cups are all made much easier and accessible thanks to the worldwide web. It has also dramatically altered the art scene. Some would say fine art has been cheapened as the traditional artists’ work can now be scrolled through in a second without the appreciation of soaking it in live. There are also those who advocate for the Internet’s role in art – usually those with active Tumblr accounts.
Vancouver’s Gillian Cole is part of a group of net artists, those who utilize the vastness of the web to cultivate and create art and published on an online format in ways only available digitally. These aren’t your typical .GIFs of toddlers tripping, cats dressed as humans, or cinemagraphs of Orange is the New Black characters. These are artistic snippets ranging from hand-drawn animation to digitized compilations and more. Cole has collected a swath of these clips, which she will be looping in a projected short film-type display at Red Gate on July 11th, complete with live music provided by local talent.
Combining bands & art seems to be her speciality. This is the second .GIF show Cole has hosted, as well as a psychedelic colouring book art show, also to the tunes of bands jamming out across the room. “This one is going to be a little more different than the last one, the last one was a little bit more punk band-themed, which was interesting. This one’s going to be a little more ambient and electronic music-based,” explains Cole. The bands and artists don’t know ahead of time what each other is doing, so part of the experiment is to see how they tune up. “I’m a hand-drawn animated artist, and once you animate something even if you don’t match it to a beat, you’ll find that your eye and ear will match sounds.”
.GIFs are so rampant online that they have almost become owned by the Internet itself, with rarely anyone asking who created them or where they came from. They somehow all just came to be. “Some artists found their .GIFs online, some made them… some made them just for this show actually,” tells Cole. When asked about if the artists are concerned that their work will be lost in the vastness of Tumblr without ever being credited to them, Cole does mention that citing .GIFs has become a bit of a lost cause. “It’s almost like an open source thing, when you put it on the Internet and share it so many times over and over again, the authorship becomes sort of lost.” The artists are actually sourced online with a Facebook call for submission, making this a from-the-web/to-the-web cycle.
“It’s time-based media, not necessarily with low quality, but it’s only about 10 frames, so you still get that quality of movement,” mentions Cole. With all of the visual noise of the web, curation is key, which is where the net artists come in. A combination of visual arts, graphic design, and of course web-savvy geniuses, these artists know their memes as well as they know Damien Hirst’s portfolio.
When BeatRoute asked Cole if she expects to see a lot of cats, she tells us that so far she has seen none submitted for this year. “There have been a couple of memes. I know in the last .GIF show there were some infomercial .GIFs going around…” reminisces Cole. With multiple projectors around the room screening the reels, be on the lookout for your favourite ones. Sharpen up the right side of your brain before attending too, because there will also be interactive art displays. Whether the show spurs an appreciation for fine cinematography captured in isolated clips from dramatic films, showcases local artists animation talents in three-second snapshots, or just brings a laugh from the cutest pet memes stuck in trees, the .GIF show is the perfect combination of going to the movies, soaking in art and hearing live music under one roof.
.GIF 2 will be held at Red Gate Arts Society on Friday, July 11 with live music from Noble Oak, Vision Loser, Mourning Coup, Underpass, Hot Fruit and DJ sets by Midnight Vulture & Doris Crane.BC, British Columbia, GIF, GIF Show, GIFs, Internet, Internet culture, Red Gate Arts Society