New Criticals

Refusing to mimic an analogue in the real world of gravity, the .gif undermines expectations. As Derrida has noted, metaphors from the analog sphere heirarchically structure the experience of the digital. He sought to challenge that order by giving writing a “voice,” for example in the way that “the word ‘TAIN’ overprints its visibility onto écriT, écrAn, écrIN.” In this way, the written word “can also be heard, not just seen.” [6] This .gif accomplishes a similar objective in a different way. The viewer applying rational expectations about how “real” objects rotate to the object on the screen will only have those expectations undermined. In that moment of observation, the viewer is confronted with a challenge to basic understandings of spatial reasoning and the viewer's own perception. This gives image a curious resonance; it makes itself heard in that way.

Many of the metaphors relied on by a computer operating system are bureaucratic in nature. Let’s not talk about,” Derrida says, “the verbs cut and paste or delete that my software also includes.” [7] Derrida believes that  “the order of the page, even as a bare survival, will prolong the afterlife of paper—far beyond its disappearance or withdrawal.” [8] Insofar as they resist bureaucratic metaphors, .gifs are considered to be the apotheosis of meaninglessness internet behavior. They are idle, refusing to work. They even resist the essence of bureaucratic functioning: filing. They have no names, only “tags,” and therefore resist traditional forms of archiving. This quality beckons the domain of namelessness, contributing to their mystery.