20 July 2022

Help! Here comes a GIF! Cyrano de Bergerac exalts!

Being a visual creature I am really surprised that I didn't go into films when I was younger. I sort of know why, but I am still surprised nonetheless from the vantage point in this quixotic future place of today. 

I didn't go to film school because I had no idea who I was, nor did I have any sense that I had anything to say. I was a dreamy romantic, immature and lost, and so naturally I went to Europe to drink wine and read philosophy. 

But as fate would have it, upon arriving there for University I met a painter (Leo Marchutz) in Aix-en-Provence who would change that part of me, some of it, the philosophy bit, but the drinking red wine part didn't change. In any event I became beholden to a new world of visual discipline, one centred around Painting. 

But like other dreamers, I was always going to see films any time I could. Then, when video came out I embraced that world too, and I have made about a hundred brief small things under the nom de guerre L'air de rien. Just for fun, here is a GIF made in Vimeo from one of my one minute videos from the i-phone back in 2018. It doesn't work as a GIF, but hey! It was my first try. I hadn't been into my account there in a long while and it turns out, to my surprise  that they have created many new options for videos posted with their site. One of them allows a user to make GIFS from one's work, quite easily in fact. So, indeed, it opens a whole new field of fun!

À l’Orangerie

But of course, it's a crowded field out there because everyone, it seems, has become a video artist in one small way or another as we now live in a world of visual absurdity, whether we like it or not, whether it's TicTok or not.

But I like it, most of it,,, some of it anyway. Better that people are shooting videos than guns, as we say up here in the Bronx. And of course the smart phone has become the tool of the trade for this explosive bouquet of craziness.

And finally, there is the GIF which arrived not too long ago (but long after the ubiquitous emoji though) and I embraced it quickly, entirely, completely, and besottedly like a young lover in high school. I found an immediate comfort in its innate cryptic wit. A well place GIF is a marvellous thing, a light touch of the quixotic quip, (think of Dorothy Parker in the sack with Marcel Proust).

And the GIF reminded me of an early hero of mine from boarding school. In an English class as an awkward boy of 14 I discovered Cyrano de Bergerac, and my fantasy life changed forever. Using his wicked wit instead of a sword, Cyrano  devastated his rivals, his enemies, and conquered love in an odd ball sort of way.

But I loved him immediately, he became my hero (more about that one day), but henceforth my wit would save me from any scrapes in life, I could be free forever with a sharp tongue. 

I soon discovered that a GIF too, could slice and dice with the just appropriate retort of irony. There is a certain art to it in a dime store sort of way. Emojis, on the other hand,  are tacky and shallow. GIFS are to emojis as Van Gogh is to Julian Schnabel. Responding with a great GIF is a high art form and reveals something intimate about the user that might normally hide behind an insipid text. One can express anger, surprise, laughter or faux sadness (faux everything!) because a GIF's DNA is basically irony. 

"Brevity is the soul of wit"

I forget who said this (Nixon?),,, but it's a truism that survives even our most postmodern cynicism because realistically, the world really does need more irony.

Some of my GIF faves are Spanky, but one needs to be a certain age to understand this, Obama thinking wtf? Robert Redford, ditto for a certain age; and this curiously bent alteration of Robert Redford for those who really appreciate la double entendre. But, lots of other weird ones too, most of which I will keep secret in order to surprise some of you in the near future. Sadly, as you can readily attest, GIFS won't work in this Blog format so the following static image will have to do. 

And yes, we do live in world of disinformation and altered facts, but on the bright side, we live in a world of alteration too, and for this we are indebted to the artists of the early 20th century Europe who forever changed our take on the grand Bourgeoisie who ruled over everyone with their boring mannerisms. I don't often give big shout out to the Surrealists but today I will. 

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