In this lab, I introduce three counter-GIFs that respond to and subvert the conventions of various GIF genres.
This counter-GIF subverts the conventions of the reaction GIF by drawing attention to the difference between the affect depicted in a GIF and the GIF-user’s actual affect. Although animated GIFs imply that the depicted action is the same as the user’s embodied action, this is often not the case. Indeed, as reaction GIFs become more dramatic, the gulf between our embodied reactions and those depicted in GIFs widens.
Miltner and Highfield (2017) claim that conciseness is a defining feature of reaction GIFs, arguing that reactions GIFs “plac[e] attention on a single visual action, feeling, or response” (5). The parallel and opposite reactions displayed in the counter-GIF subvert the notion that reaction GIFs depict singular, concise gestures.
In cinemagraph GIFs, one element of the image moves while the rest remains still. Because of their aesthetic appeal, cinemagraph GIFs are often used for “higher” artistic purposes, such as visually quoting films or creating artistic advertisements. “A Brief History of the GIF” (2014), Jason Eppink claims that cinemagraph GIFs “typically fetishize a consumer good or identity” (303). The first GIF depicts an idyllic lifestyle, complete with a candle and avocados as props. In the second GIF, there is still only one element that moves (the bags blowing in the wind) but its content, a trash can, is decidedly unaesthetic.
Fandom GIFs often portray the moment that a fan’s OTP (one true pairing) gets together. Looped ad infinitum, the fandom GIF provides a way for fans to relive their favorite moments in a series. Accordingly, the first GIF pictures the moment that Jim and Pam share their first kiss on NBC’s The Office.
In the second GIF, however, the happy moment is interrupted and spliced with images of the two characters’ competing love interests. First there is Pam’s season 1 fiancé, Roy; then Jim’s seasons 2-3 girlfriend, Karen; and finally Pam’s season 9 flirtation, Brian. The quality of being “stuck in time” is undermined by including characters who appear throughout the show’s nine seasons.