We asked 5 GIF artists to help us represent some of today's newest internet-enabled emotions.
At one point or another, we’ve all wanted to throw a book or two at a computer. That emotion is easily cataloged as anger (or rage--depending on the size of the book) and isn't terribly different from how we feel when we're thwarted by other kinds of machines, like our cars, for instance. But there are some feelings that feel like they belong exclusively to our internet-addicticted digital condition--like that creeping anxiety you get from watching an empty IM window lull for what seems like days. Oh, the agony!
We didn’t need any new forms of anxiety, but the internet has provided us with novel incarnations of neurotic discontent by offering us myriad new ways to experience rejection or make an ass out of ourselves. A while back, Leigh Alexander decided to quantify and qualify some of these brave new feelings, which were then turned into a handy infographic by designer Pei-Yin Ling (above).
But the emotive state of the internet is far more kinetic and dynamic than an unmoving image can depict. With that in mind, asked five talented GIF artists to help build upon these ideas by providing their own visual interpretation of five internet-derived emotions.
Emotion 1: A vague and gnawing pang of anxiety centered around an IM window that has lulled.
GIF created by Mert Keskin, aka Haydiroket, exclusively for The Creators Project.
Working under the pseudonym Haydiroket, Mert Keskin is one of Tumblr’s resident GIF editors. Since being exposed to the Atari game system at the age of 5, Keskin has been drawn to the digital world much like empty stomachs are drawn to the delicious lure of pizza, and was part of some Demoscene groups in the 90s before having his talents tapped by the likes of MTV and Tumblr.
Keskin chose to represent his particular brand of anxiety through the psychedelic whirl of a pizza gone mad, perhaps referencing the dreaded spinny wheel of death any Mac user knows all too well. Tapping into the unnerving uneasiness felt at the other end of an IM window in respite, the pie serves as a perfect marker of a society that expects instant gratification. The desktop cycling through a maddening swirl of colors in the background only adds to the commentary of a modern people who have forgotten what patience feels (or looks) like.
Emotion 2: A sudden and irrational rage in response to reading an '@ reply' on Twitter.
GIF created by Yuriy Mironoff exclusively for The Creators Project.
Nightmares charged with a Keith Haring sensibility and an acid trip color palette are the best way to describe the works of Yuriy Mironoff. The Ukrainian artist believes the GIF is the storytelling tool of the future, saying that "magazines and books will use GIFs as a common visual language. There will be more and more artists using GIFs as mediators between [the] world and themselves.”
Having Mironoff tap into the irrational rage produced by an off-hand Twitter ‘@ reply’ was good timing, as he had recently “experienced [a] panic attack.” He said: “I thought it was the end of my sanity. I wasn't able to escape from my own fear for 10 minutes... It was the most frightening and horrible experience in my life.” Like panic attacks, the irrational emotions that social media can elicit seem to stem from an uncharted place. As Mironoff’s GIF so visceraly illustrates, that place is somewhere where feelings are worn like a seizure-inducing second skin.
Emotion 3: The state of being 'installed' at a computer or laptop for an extended period of time without purpose, characterized by a blurry, formless anxiety undercut with something hard like desperation.
GIF created by Gustavo Fajardo exclusively for The Creators Project.
Gustavo Fajardo is a champion of new media. Based in Guatemala City, Fajardo is adverse to the conventional idea that art must exist today as some ancient originators decided some 1,500 years ago. Inspired by the Fight Club quote, “I felt like destroying something beautiful,” as told to The Daily Dot, Fajardo infuses his work with glitch aesthetics.
Regarding the internet emotion he took on with his GIF portrait, he says:
"I can relate easily to this ‘new’ emotion (I have experienced that exact sensation). I think humans react to stimuli and tend to create imaginary fields of sensation and ways to perceive reality [by] creating an alternate dimension of feelings and ways to perceive life itself or what we think life is. Technology can help us evolve but also there are consequences and collateral damage in the process."
One of those consequences seems to be a growing addiction to a technology that has come to define us. As Fajardo captures with his tongue-in-cheek GIF, the more time we spend parked in front of the bulky heads of our computer systems, the more we start to look like, and become one with them. The resulting state seldom feels better than a hard desperation.
Emotion 4: The car collision of appetite and discomfort one feels simultaneously when using the internet to seek and consume images or information that may be considered unseemly or inappropriate.
An existing GIF Matt DiVito, aka Mr. Div, assigned to his designated emotion.
The figureless GIFs of graphic designer Matt DiVito , known on Tumblr as Mr. Div, look like square-shaped portals into mini universes ruled by their own brand of physics. His GIFs were born from a desire to more easily showcase animations that might not have readily fit a short video format.
We are all familiar with the hypnotizing rabbit hole one can fall into when scouring the Internet for unsightly things--just think of the last time you went on a YouTube binge. At the end of a bout of unchecked curiosity, a discomfort that breaks apart your insides makes you wonder why you needed to embark on that puzzling journey to begin with. As DiVito’s GIF illustrates, you’re usually left with a dark void when you succumb to the car collision of appetite the WWW can bring on.
Emotion 5: The sense of fatigue and disconnect one experiences after emitting a massive stream of content only to hit some kind of 'wall' and forget and/or abandon the entire thing.
GIF created by Colin Raff exclusively for The Creators Project.
Every one of Colin Raff’s surreal GIFs elicit a sense of acute fatigue and disconnect, but that’s exactly what makes his work so brilliant. He was nice enough to create one just for The Creators Project that captures his trademark aesthetic and dark sense of humor. Raff’s work can be sublimely violent and unnerving, but then again, those wayward emotions seem to run rampant on the interwebs.
As Raff’s GIF so deftly depicts, one can spew out a massive stream of content--in this case, some faceless insect carriage--only to fade away in the process. As technology further dictates the rules of our world, our whole being will increasingly be determined by its limitations. So, when a technological ‘wall’ is met, it’s simply easier to throw up one’s hands than do the human thing of mandating the technology according to innate desires.
Well, there you have our visual taxonomy of some of the internet's most obnoxious new emotions. What are some other internet-enabled feelings you think we should add to the mix? Let us know in the comments below.