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Artists Create a 1000-Year GIF Loop 105

jovius writes: Finnish artists Juha van Ingen and Janne Särkelä have developed a monumental GIF called AS Long As Possible, which loops once per 1000 years. The 12 gigabyte GIF is made of 48,140,288 numbered frames, that change about every 10 minutes. They plan to start the loop in 2017, when GIF turns 30 years old. "If nurturing a GIF loop even for 100 — let alone 3,000 years — seems an unbelievable task, how much remains of our present digital culture after that time?", van Ingen said. The artists plan to store a mother file somewhere and create many iterations of the loop in various locations — and if one fails, it may be easily synchronized with, and replaced by, another. Maybe they should use FLIF instead.
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Artists Create a 1000-Year GIF Loop

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 03, 2015 @10:34AM (#50650979)

    BFD. Displays of sequential numbers, or randomly generated pixels that have no interest except to "contemporary ahhtists".

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 03, 2015 @10:55AM (#50651111)

      Science starts with something complicated and tries to make it simple.
      Art starts with something simple and tries to make it complicated.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by esonik ( 222874 )

        My feeling is that artists provide a creative source of "noise" and crazy ideas that are critical for breakthroughs. Such kind of out-of-the-box thinking is heavily sought after in the scientific community. Science really needs sometimes a "mutation" of ideas to make the next big leap. Just throwing money at a problem will give you only incremental small steps of improvement. Ideas are the most important ingredient for scientific breakthrough.
        Therefore I encourage scientists to expose themselves to art and

      • Your comment is flip, but insightful. I'd put it a different way: science strives to reduce ambiguity, whereas art explores it. But they both strive to express the truth.

      • My question is:
        When does the copyright run out on this thing?
        Now that I think about it, copyright will probably be extended well past 1000 years before 10% of this GIF even shows.
        Mickey Mouse will live forever!
      • Art starts with something simple and tries to make it complicated.

        In that case, this is a failure. He started with something simple and made it...simple.

    • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Saturday October 03, 2015 @01:48PM (#50652071) Homepage

      ...and once every ten minutes? Jeez.

      I've got some funny cat GIFs that would play for a million years if I only change the image once per millennium. Can I have my prize for being clever?

      • The delay per frame field in the Graphic Control Extension is a 16 bit unsigned integer with units of 1/100th of a second. If you have figured out how to get an animated gif to display with frame intervals longer than 10m55s in existing viewers' code, then I suppose you really are clever.

        Let us know when you're done...

      • by Toshito ( 452851 )

        Can I haz my prize for being clever?

        FTFY

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 03, 2015 @10:39AM (#50650999)

    If it's representative of "our present digital culture", 47 million of the frames must be porn.

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by minkowski76 ( 2611417 ) on Saturday October 03, 2015 @10:39AM (#50651001)
    Was there a contest somewhere for 'Wasting Your Time In the Least Meaningful Way'? If so, these people win first place.
  • The dreary time of the year - September to June. But look on the bright side. Finns can make animated GIFs. And that IS Juh not Gih. Crazy Canadians.

  • Pretty impressive uptime

    By then we should be colinizing other solar systems

    • by Anonymous Coward

      By then people will be saying "It's been 1000 years since the start of space travel, why aren't we colonizing other solar systems?" And the scientists will try to explain, again, why it's not happening, and everybody will ignore them and make more thinkies about astronauts stranded in other solar systems.

    • I generally don't hear much about the Finnish people, one way or the other - hopefully this blight on the eyes won't be their legacy.

  • by david.emery ( 127135 ) on Saturday October 03, 2015 @10:44AM (#50651035)

    The famous Westinghouse sign in Pittsburgh that went through permutations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Saturday October 03, 2015 @11:20AM (#50651243)

      A better comparison is made in TFA to the musical piece by John Cage called As Slow As Possible [wikipedia.org]. While initial performances were for a half hour or hour, some crazy people decided to build an organ in Germany and plan a performance that will last over 600 years. (The next note will change in 2020.) And then you have stuff like stretching out a recording of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to 24 hours [slashdot.org] without pitch distortions, which was vaguely interesting over a decade ago.

      At least these previous projects had a goal of taking a preexisting artwork and pushing it to its limits. When such things were first done, it at least brought up philosophical musings about the perception of time and artworks. I'm not sure what this adds or what the novel achievement is here other than "watch me program an image file that changes slowly."

  • Another animated GIF i can steal and put up on my animated GIF geocities website! Aha, i miss the 90's
    • This file is as large as all geocities websites put together.. plus, at 90s internet speeds, it'd probably take 1000 years to upload it :)
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday October 03, 2015 @10:49AM (#50651075) Journal
    Get the damned gif, change the frame rate and I am going to see how it all ends and post the spoiler all over the net. Ha, Ha, Ha...(-- Evil laughter while caressing a docile white cat)
  • by fisted ( 2295862 ) on Saturday October 03, 2015 @10:56AM (#50651115)

    1,000 Years are 525,960,000 minutes, i.e. 52,596,000 10-minutes

    According to TFS, the thing has 48,140,288 Frames, one of which is displayed ever 10 minutes.

    So they seem to be 4,455,712 frames short of having it actually take 1000 years to complete.
    That's 85 years. ...artists... what a meta-failure.

    • As I just mentioned in another post, I believe the spec has a 16 bit value allowed for frame delay in hundredths of seconds. That makes the max frame delay approximately 10.9 minutes. I presume the 10 minutes quoted in the article us just someone rounding to a nice sounding number

    • There is no single piece of hardware that this GIF will run on that will run for 1000 years. Eventually, the capacitors in the power supply and motherboard will dry out, and cause a failure. The best solution is to run it on a VM or container that can be moved from hardware to hardware. This move probably won't happen instantaneously, so there is probably a little wiggle room for hardware maintenance.

      However, 91.5% uptime isn't very good.
      • What, you never replaced components and/or soldered in a powered-up and operating piece of electronics? I'll take your geek card on the way out, thank you very much.

    • Did you account for all the leap years, and all the years that could be leap years but aren't (century years whose number is not divisible by 400)?

  • A numeric display that increments at a fixed interval and periodically restarts its sequence? I didn't realise my $5 K-mart digital clock was considered art.

  • by Cochonou ( 576531 ) on Saturday October 03, 2015 @10:58AM (#50651125) Homepage
    The concept if very interesting, however the actual GIF could have been a little more creative than just a counter.
  • by pz ( 113803 ) on Saturday October 03, 2015 @10:59AM (#50651135) Journal

    The Long Now is a far better project than a GIF with slowly increasing numbers. Heck, Arthur Ganson's "Machine with Concrete" is better, and covers the same idea.

    If they had made the GIF a 1000 year movie of non-trivial content, then it might be far more interesting. But then, "The Clock" movie which covers 24 hours is brilliant and would be hard to surpass for density of ideas.

    48M frames would be about 550 hours of footage at 24 frames per second. That's multiple lifetimes worth of output for a prolific movie maker. So it's unlikely that you could really produce that many frames -- even ones that aren't that different one from the next, as you would have in a normal movie.

    How about something more tractable and interesting? How about "Swan Lake" at 1/100th speed (inspired by David Michalek's "Slow Dancing")? How about a basketball game at 1/100th speed? How about time-lapse of something even slower, like a simulation of geological weathering? And those are just off the top of my head. A sequence of numbers? To celebrate GIF? Can't we do better?

  • by mark_reh ( 2015546 ) on Saturday October 03, 2015 @11:27AM (#50651271) Journal

    The long, slow, uncreative .gif file is only a tiny part of this project. The biggest piece of the project is the commentary about whether it is art, created by all of us after being manipulated by the artist into doing so. The artist's contribution to the whole work was his ability to get media attention for his project and to generate something so uncreative, even unartistic in the traditional sense, so lacking in required practice or skill, that it would surely get the ball rolling on the comments.

    In this, my one comment, I have done more work than the "artist" did for the whole project.

    It's interesting how someone's small waste of time can be snowballed into a collectively huge waste of time by so many others.

    THAT is ART, and I am pleased to have been allowed a chance to contribute to the project.

    • by swell ( 195815 )

      "It's interesting how someone's small waste of time can be snowballed into a collectively huge waste of time by so many others." - Will someone please mark the parent 'insightful'?

      We've seen a great deal of bizarre 'art' since Warhol, etc. A great puzzle for me was Christo who would wrap shorelines with fabric, etc. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] ) but such eccentricities are becoming almost routine.

      Whether or not it is art is not for me to say; but these things help stimulate a healthy imagination.

    • Short form: You can deflect accusations of being an uncreative, lazy hack by shouting, "META!" at every opportunity.

  • That's just 18 days worth of video at 30 fps. You'd think that they could have done something more interesting with that than a counter.

    • Consider the person who would come up with the idea in the first place. No, they could not come up with something more interesting than a counter. That's probably their limit for tech science knowledge.

  • Does FLIF even support animated graphics?

  • What remains from out digital culture?
    Easy. Nothing.
    As someone else has said: "The tragedy about our culture is that our cars break apart after ten years, yet our waste remains for decades or even centuries to come".

    Most of the digital "assets" we have (photos, videos) will be gone in a couple of years. Lost in hard-drive crashes, failed migrations or obsolescence of technology.
    Most of them were crap anyway. Those that you want to preserve: better make B/W prints...

  • "Stuff that matters"....indeed.

  • Sadly this kind of crap passes for art. What happened to people actually making things with their hands?

    • What happened to people actually making things with their hands?

      Craftsmanship is still going strong, I think.

  • I'm sure glad they did that so I don't have to. Now every child can go to sleep with a full belly tonight.
  • Pretty sure the last frame is a jump scare.

  • Download it from Centurylink.

  • I would comment more but I have yet to finish watching it.

  • More like dumb-asses create useless piece of crap.
  • Just fire up any MAC running OSX and wait for it to crash.

    One thousand years? No Problem!

  • ...a Comcast download simulator.

  • In a very low-res font. That don't impress me much.

  • Then GIF is pretty much the worst encoding mechanism to use. Yeah, I know it's "art" or "pretentious wankery", but it's a poor showcase of technology.

    Here's the Amstrad CPC 464 BASIC version (I should RENUM it). This has far far far denser information encoding. Yeah, I know the font is different. Maybe the font is the entire point of this piece of art.

    10 N = 1 : REM 40-bit floating point number - probably should use a few integer numbers instead to ensure the count works properly - exercise left to the read

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