Last Saturday, several groups of artists, scholars, entrepreneurs, writers, and more gathered in the basement of the New Museum for the second annual Open Score symposium, where they delved into topics like artificial intelligence, how memes relate to blackness, and ways the internet can create social infrastructures. The afternoon was co-presented by Rhizome, a contemporary arts organization centered on intersections of art and technology.
Even if GIFs are objectively one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to the internet, not everyone gets them. Humorless turds say that these grainy, animated loops are a passing fad, and a medium that’s prone to idiocy. Haters will continue to hate, but one criticism actually feels a bit true: GIFs lack nuance and are far too fleeting to communicate anything of substance. They’re the perfect metaphor for the kids-these-days refrain that our attention spans are shrinking. One recent and oft-repeated study conducted in Canada found that 2,000 participants, on average, measured a mind-bogglingly brief attention span of 8 seconds. Supposedly this means that in a competition between humans and goldfish, we’d lose to the fish.