Posts tagged memes

It has been that kind of month in which blogging has dropped very low in my priorities. I must admit, lower than catching up with the last episodes of Mad Men, a TV series that I’ve always regarded as part serious Art for its awesome literary scope and its preocupation with how people are really like, part guilty pleasure for its soap opera-like dramatic twists and turns (isn’t Ken Cosgrove’s eyepatch a self-deprecating joke about that?). I’m sad to have watched the end of Don, Peggy, Joan, Roger, even Pete!, as characters that I’ve known for the past eight years, and that’s a testament to Matthew Weiner’s genius as a writer and showrunner.

Still, we’ll always have the memes. Such as Mad Men Integrated.

Spending so much time on the Internet, there are certain phenomena I am most certainly aware on an unconscious level, but don’t seem to really register until someone points them out. Such is the case of the #shitpic, the subject of Brian Feldman’s great essay The Triumphant Rise of the Shitpic, which, unlike other -pics, I was relieved to find is a purely metaphoric descriptior of very lo-fi images, tipically of memes, that are usually produced when mobile users take screen captures or photograph screens in order to circunvent the lack of re-sharing or download functions in apps such as Instagram. Doing so adds layers of recompression and degradation that mimic analog properties and ‘age’ a meme as it spreads, up to the point the shittiest pic correlates with the funniest (or at least the most viral) meme.

Nick Douglas has a few more links and comments on the subject, including his contribution to a Journal of Visual Culture issue dedicated to memes, which is refreshingly free to read.

Going in the absolutely opposite direction (#tastypics?), I found these demos of the BPG image format absolutely jawdropping, and I hope BPGs start to replace JPEGs, like, yesterday. However, since BPG images are, very basically, still HEVC frames, I sincerely hope software patents won’t muck everything up and ensure JPEG reign well into the 2030s, allowing generations upon generations of #shitpics to overrun the Internet.

I remember when animated GIFs meant loathsome banner ads, rotating logos and other artifacts of 1990s bad and distractive webdesign. So it is perhaps the greatest and weirdest of all atavistic reemergences of a dated technology (after all, the GIF is a rather limited image format — with a palette of 256 colors max, with optional 1-bit transparencies — with an unsophisticated run-length compression algorithm, noted only for its ability to contain multiple frames) that the animated GIF became the new art form of the 2010s.

Anyway, sooner or later this looping animation madness had to come to its logical endgame, so here it is (not pictured above, so not to spoil it for you): the Procatinator.

By the way, here’s my humble contribution to the GIF+cats memepool, done with my Lomokino.