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O Magazine

The sound of mUZIc
by Víctor Navarro

The hills are alive with the sound of uzis! It’s impossible not to imagine joyful Maria singing it while she shoots at 360º like Chow-Yun Fat. We could also, to complete the contrasting scene, accompany her with a cover metal of ‘My Favourite Things’. Not that it’s necessary: one of the strengths of GIFS is that they are mute and incomplete pieces on which, paradoxically, there’s nothing left over or missing. One imagines the reverse angle with a Swiss field full of massacred Nazis. The End.

Examples such as this one are a good instance of the power of the GIF. What other form has been capable of distilling movement and discourse? The moving image has reached the greatest technical complexity to return to the pure visual gag lasting a few seconds, not very far from L’arroseur arrosé. It’s the amusement meme. 22nd century theorists will study these funny stories and marvel at their wit (and the free time their creators must have had, and their silliness…) in the same way as we invented myths about that train arriving at the station.

The heroic bloodshed remix of Julie Andrews goes beyond the dubbing and restaging of TV show El Informal and plays with a digital composition that some would love to have in Hollywood. There’s master technique and good timing for comedy. It could be one of those “how would such and such movie be if it were directed by…” (It used to be Tarantino; now it’s Wes Anderson). But it doesn’t need an excuse to build up the gag. Internet is pure punch line, pure payoff with no setup. Now it isn’t even micro narratives any longer, but micro ideas.

To me, the novice with her weapons in John Woo or Max Payne style seems almost like an aleph compressing the whole of the Internet: a bit (oops!) post-humour; depending entirely on its reference; playing with camp in an ironic and crafty way (but at the same time, an honest one); meant for quick consumption but at the same time able to be watched in YouTube for many obsessive hours; crossing innocence and harshness with the same petulant (and obvious) way than Banksy, and seemingly with no known author (although this one is credited: by special effects and post-production pro Dan Deentremont).

Sometimes I think that GIFs pop up in Tumblr when no one’s looking. We are all their authors. Lawrence Lessig (from Creative Commons) says that we are immersed in a Remix Culture on which the most important thing is not authorship, but endless and cooperative transformation of all the materials (Kirby Ferguson affirms in his talks that “everything is a remix; Baudrillard hasn’t pronounced himself yet). We are all GIFs, then: a beehive mind dedicated to putting guns on the hands of a smiling novice just for the sake of it. I’ve been looking at it for more than ten minutes, so I guess it can’t be that bad.