Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Christina Hendricks on an Endless Loop The glorious GIF renaissance.

Christina Hendricks on an Endless Loop- The glorious GIF renaissance. By Jonah Weiner 10.2010

Weiner agrees somewhat with the previous writer Thompson discussed that GIFs have distinct functions and get to the point instantaneously and focus on a moment. The difference being that Weiner admits to the GIFs time wasting ability but points out that they waste our time online more efficiently. We discard the rest and focus on the part most important to us.

He also discusses the GIFs ability to relive shared experiences with others already familiar with the content. GIFs have the ability to bring groups closer together. His examples of this are fans of certain TV shows. Twitter also have the ability for GIFs which can add content and colour otherwise unable to fit into the limited character number.

Taken from Giphy.com True Detective

How To Make Money Off The Animated GIF Comeback

How To Make Money Off The Animated GIF Comeback - By Matt Miller 8/08/2012 

Miller's article on the Forbes website discusses a couple of artists and designers who are currently making a living from making animated GIFs. Firstly Reed+Rader  and Jimmy Repeat and Mark Portillo both pairs from New York have been making GIFs for the advertising world and big companies. 

Apple has more GIF apps in their store, namely Cinemagram and GIFBoom.
Below is a link to some people using Cinemagram in a creative way.


GIFBoom is a site where people can upload their GIF into different categories.


The Animated GIF: Still Looping After All These Years

The Animated GIF: Still Looping After All These Years - By Clive Thompson 01.03.13
In this Wired article Thompson discusses the Gif's unwillingness to die and the fact the platforms like Tumblr and Twitter has made them even more popular than before. Thompson states that even the Oxford Dictionary chose GIF as its Word of the Year for 2012.
He implies with current technology and the internet that the amount of moving images to look at is quite overwhelming. That is why the GIF stands out as it gives us time to consider and reflect on a single moment. Some other articles on GIFs suggest it is our need to see and consume more but I like Thompson's definition as it relates more to a Buddhist   meditative awareness. It it totally in the moment and captures exactly what is quite fascinating about that moment. 
Thompson says that in a sense, the animated GIF illustrates what sharp viewers we're becoming.
The above statement leads me to my belief that GIFs have the ability to reach the fine art arena. After all are not artists the sharp viewers of society and aesthetics?
I like the idea of making animated GIFs that have a meditative quality to them. Perhaps yoga poses?
Taken from Giphy

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Spirits of Time Past

This article is about the 2001 Japanese animation Spirited Away by the amazing Hayao Miyazaki. Written by Susan Bye who is an educator here at ACMI, Melbourne.

Bye discusses Chihrio, the protagonists journey and how it relates to larger issues in contemporary Japanese society. I am currently reading more on Shinto and wabi sabi and trying to grasp a better understanding of their meaning. Chihiro learns and gains some traditonal Japanese virtues on her journey. The chracters in the film very much as Bye states draw on the animistic influence of Shintoism and also a Japanese term furusato which is likened to a nostalgia for the past. 
The film has many fantastical, spiritual characters that represent aspects from nature, emotional characteristics and Japanese stereotypes. 
Bye suggest that the Bathhouse represents the Shinto notion of purification. In the story many spiritual characters come to the Bathhouse to be cleansed on a physical and spiritual level. The film touches on environmental issues and a disengaged society.

Miyazaki’s yearning for Japan to relocate those aspects of its traditional heritage that will invigorate its future. pg 127

I see the term furusato as having similar qualities as wabi sabi. It literally means home town but with the nostalgia aspect, can relate to deterioration elements within wabi sabi.

I love this film and is my favorite by Miyazaki. Having started on the research, especially on animism in Shinto and wabi sabi I have reached an ever deeper admiration and perhaps understanding of the characters. 

Bye, Susan
Screen Education, Spring 2012, Issue 67, p.121-128 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination.

Written by Anne Allison 2006.
This is where the term Techno-animism was coined. Allison discusses Japanese toy production, especially after WW2. After the war Japan needed to rebuild itself as a nation and toys and technology were two areas of strength. Allison also discusses Japan's history of animism stemming from the spiritual belief in Shinto that all things possess a spirit or soul with the added influence from Zen Buddhism. Somewhat inherent in their culture, even new technology could hold spiritual powers. An example that she discussed in depth was the manga character Astro Boy ( “Mighty Atom”)manga created by Osamu Tezuka. He was half boy, half robot and a very popular character. Unlike the west where robots were depicted as untrustworthy and usually feared if portrayed in movies.

This is mecha animated by Shinto, Japan’s religion of animism in which everything is endowed with a spirit and spirituality imbues the whole universe from boulders to ants. Not particular to the main character, roboticization has seeped into the very fabric of life itself here, expressed as a universal principle where the fusing of the natural and mechanic is akin to a spiritual truth. Pg 63

Not only is boundary-crossing promiscuity rampant here, in the sense that there seems no limit to what can be conjoined and cross-pollinated with something else, but also technology (mecha) is a key component to the way life of all kinds is constituted—a priority the Japanese state placed on technology as well in its reconstruction efforts following the war. Taking account of the centrality of mecha in Japanese play goods throughout the postwar period to the present, I call this aesthetic techno-animism. Pg 13

Monday, October 28, 2013

Techno-animism in Japan: Shinto Cosmograms, Actor-network Theory, and the Enabling Powers of Non-human Agencies

Techno-animism in Japan: Shinto Cosmograms, Actor-network Theory, and the Enabling Powers of Non-human Agencies Casper Bruun Jensen and Anders Blok Theory Culture Society 2013 30: 84

Jenson and Blok produce a rather lengthy article that discusses the influence on Shinto and Buddhism on Japanese culture, especially technology. They discuss how Shinto can be interpreted as a form of animism, where spiritual qualities or souls are projected onto inanimate natural objects.  But how can this idea be transferred onto modern technology?  They suggested Shinto helps us rethink the modern world. (97) How can such a spiritual belief fit in with modern technology?

They discuss medical researchers, conservationists, animator Miyazaki Hayao and robotics as modern examples of Shinto influence.  The Japanese see no distinction between non-human in nature and non-human in technology. In Shinto everything is capable of holding spirit.

They suggest the new interest in ecology and the preservation not just of humans but of the whole environment, including non-humans hints at a relinking with religion.

Aesthetically pleasing landscapes may inspire a sense of awe in humans; as may, indeed, the surprise encounter with an attractively strange and playful robotic creature like the AIBO-the-dog. Pg 105

They talk about Japanese Anime ability to move from human to non- human to robotic to spirits to animals or polymorphous perversity.  Traditionally Japan has a more generous spirit towards robots and cyborgs. He introduces the term techno-animisim as coined by Anne Allison in Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination.

He mentions how it is very difficult to trace back the history of Shintoism and also it's relationship with Buddhism.

Aesthetically pleasing landscapes may inspire a sense of awe in humans; as may, indeed, the surprise encounter with an attractively strange and playful robotic creature like AIBO-the-dog. Pg 105

Six Names of Beauty CRISPIN SARTWELL

Six Names of Beauty  CRISPIN SARTWELL

Seeing as Wabi Sabi is a difficult term to understand, I thought including as many different interpretations as I could will add to my understanding. I quite like Sartwell's as listed below.

But let’s focus on two other terms: “wabi” and “sabi.” These merge into a single aesthetic or kind of beauty—wabi-sabi—that is related both to shibusa and to yugen, but which has a different emotional tone. Wabi is most directly translated as “poverty,” and initially in its history had all the negative connotations of that state. The life of the peasant—hard, humble, and bare—is wabi. Wabi as an aesthetic term refers to the sort of roughness that one might find in a peasant hut: to everyday, inexpensive wares, to things still in use long after they are worn and cracked. Wood for the fire is wabi, as are the stone hearth and the fire itself. Wabi as beauty is humility, asymmetry, and imperfection, a beauty of disintegration, of soil, autumn leaves, grass in drought, crow feathers. For such reasons, an appreciation of wabi is an affirmation of the world and a certain sort of refusal of its transformation for delectation. Wabi as an aesthetic is a connection to the world in its imperfection, a way of seeing imperfection as itself embodying beauty.
      Sabi means “loneliness,” again originating in a word that is largely negative. In part, one might think of sabi as the subjective state that is appropriate to the experience of wabi: a kind of desolation or meditative depression that can be sweet. But it also refers to solitude both as a state of aloneness in persons and as a spareness of objects. Japanese flower arrangements (ikebana), for example, can have a sabi quality in comparison with Western styles, because they deploy extreme economy of means, perhaps only a few stems, with as much emphasis on a branch or leaf as on a blossom. Sabi is a quality of stillness and solitude, a melancholy that is one of the basic human responses to and sources of beauty. Loneliness arouses a yearning for companionship, but it is also something that can be relaxed into or, perversely, continued in the face of opportunities for its relief. Pg 102

His interpretation gets quite deep when he defines it as transcending the meaning of beauty and ugliness and of ordinary and extraordinary. That beauty can be seen in ugly objects and that something quite everyday can be extraordinary. It takes a certain kind of shift in our thinking to recognise these qualities, especially if we have grown up in a society that values perfection, straight lines and man made materials. He talks about making peace with ugliness. I liken it to falling in love. At first you may find someone unattractive but once their inner beauty has swayed you, they start to become more physically attractive. Likewise a beautiful person can become quite ugly if they have a unattractive personality. How can we make the inner beauty of an ugly object come out for all to see and appreciate?

On further reading I was interested in the discussion about Japanese gardens and ikebana. I have always enjoyed including plants into my artwork whether they were deliberately designed as a planter or if they included plants to enhance the artwork. I plants ans nature as another element to the work. Finding the right plant was a process that could take some time. Like looking for the right colour paint or cutting a piece of wood to size.

The same is true of Japanese gardens, and of ikebana, the art of flower arrangement. Rikka, the most ancient of the styles of ikebana, is designed to capture a landscape in a vase. The vase represents the source of life in earth, and is itself made of earth. The surface of the water represents the earth’s surface. Pebbles and foliage systematically correspond to landscape elements, and are designed to create a perception of indefinite depth.  Pg 108