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O Magazine

Accept the mystery

by Gerard Casau

Last summer, what got me hooked the most wasn’t a book, or a series, but the attempts of many Internet users to try and find out what Sad Satan was all about, a videogame that had supposedly emerged from the Deep Web and in which the user roamed about a monochrome and very basically drawn labyrinth, surrounded by a gloomy sound atmosphere and with no apparent purpose other than bumping into some childish figures uttering cryptic messages or being attacked every now and then by images of not very friendly characters such as famous paedophiles Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris, Japanese psycho Tsutomu Miyazaki and, of course, Charles Manson.

After a few weeks, the excitement of the improvised detective Reddit community started wearing out until they all abandoned the case, leaving it open with the suspicion that behind all that imagery was nothing else than a clever YouTuber looking to promote his channel. Be it as it may, for a brief lapse of time, Sad Satan was something truly disturbing. An existing item the origin of which no one could trace, like the evil videotape of The Ring; maybe it was just an excrescence made up of all the condemnable and thorny contents accumulated in the Cloud spontaneously manifesting itself in playable form and through that illicit market that Deep Internet is for many.

The beautiful thing about it is that, used as we are to thinking that the Internet has (or thinks it has) answers to every question, it’s quite invigorating to find edges such as this one, since the closer we thing we are to resolve it, the more bewildering it becomes.

I got a similar feeling while watching GIF Today Is the Day, a story of mutilation, reproduction, death and start all over again starred by one some dolls made up of sponge and paper. The piece appeared as the only entry on a blog created in 2007, with no apparent authorship, and no continuity whatsoever. And it was left there as an enigmatic digital monolith resisting, imperturbable, for almost a decade.

In fact, the anomaly of Today Is the Day begins with the choice of the GIF format itself, since the sequence it contains is unusually long for such a medium (one minute and eighteen seconds, to be precise), and rejects the idea of animation that seems inherent to any GIF to propose instead a sort of photo-novel formed by static images. It isn’t even a loop, because there’s no circular link between the vignettes. It’s simply a modest short film, home-made even, moving between tenderness and restlessness and which, in the midst of the web’s ego trip field, is just contented with its own existence, silent and infinite, while others can’t stop entering mad discussions about its meaning.

And if any of you has the answer to what’s behind Today Is the Day, please keep it to yourselves; I don’t need it. I much prefer to leave this small area of mystery intact.