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Ken Burns Effect on GIFs: Grizzly Bear's 'Gun-Shy'

What does this video really think about GIFs?

by Daniel Stuckey
Jan 31 2013, 4:30pm

At first sight, Grizzly Bear's latest video, "Gun-Shy," directed by Kris Moyes as a kind of science-y meditation where the band's creativity comes from, had that crisp color corrected HD feel that every new music video has. A little extra saturation, some grass that's more Key Lime than Kentucky Blue. Sometimes it feels like video directors are hanging at the mercy of the +CONTRAST button in the Instagram app. When will there ever be enough grit, enough contrast, enough of enough going on in a little square cellphone pic?

Of course, channeling the hell out of Instagram is, more or less, right about now, par for the course. But about a few seconds into it, I saw something a little more close to home for me. A jitter, a movement, a cycle, a little flexing. A repetition. Wait a sec, is that–but it's too HD to be a–Jesus, it happened again, and again, and again. A succession of jerky GIF-like movements and scientific processes, as told through point-blank HD lenses. The pop art questions popped up: Was Moyes mocking cinemagraphs, the latest in a series of unlikely appropriations of our ironically-loved internet style, or simply mimicking them? (Cinemagraphs are those movie-like "animated GIFs for adults"; Grizzly Bear is that indie band for adults.) Then again, to ride the irony all the way down, what is a GIF itself–a comically brief moving still life–if not a mimicry and a mockery of the world? The only correct, instinctual, ironic response was to open up Photoshop and start GIFfing.

You are welcome, guys. (Despite being a great and popular band, the Grizzly Bears are not rich, remember; they may have a music video director but they probably don't have a professional GIF maker). But I didn't do this for you. I immediately shared the results on the image chat site The reaction was tepid, but it was three in the morning. "that grizzly bear video," dates, one user wrote, "is really confusing to watch at first. its like ... ken burns effect on gifs..." It's like Terrence Malick, it's like Tumblr. It's loops repeating. It's possibly, exactly where creativity comes from.