Seeing as how the GIF has become an integral part of modern communication, PAPER is teaming up with our friends at GIPHY Arts to spotlight up-and-coming artists who are taking the medium to the next level. This week, we have Jess Mac's GIFs of protest and political activism in Trump's America.
In year zero of the Trumpocalypse, memes carry as much weight as policy, and cultural discourse is filtered through all-caps retweets and fake news Facebook posts. The importance of artistic dissent is paramount and subversively present in the work of multi-disciplinary artist Jess MacCormack, a.k.a. Jess Mac.
MacCormack is a veteran of subversive online art, engaging and critiquing platforms like Youtube while concurrently creating a body of offline artistic work in tandem with their engagement with a variety of different activist communities. As the dissent inspired by recent events makes its way through the sprawl of online media, GIFs too have become a tool for radicalization in the hands of Mac and others. Social media and blog sites serve as soapboxes for protest, and GIF artists like Mac serve to provide us with looping digital placards of revolt.
Finding inspiration in queer, artistic, and activist communities, MacCormack's GIF work circumnavigates the highs and lows of our collective internet psyche. “I'm interested in the ways language and images are currently used and disseminated on the internet," they wrote."[Both] how that affects people's sense of self and relationship to others and how that can be subverted to resist capitalist power structures and the status quo."
What appeals to MacCormack about working in GIFs is the quick production turnaround and immediacy at which they can reach an audience both visually and conceptually. "I love working with pop culture and found images. I think it's great a GIF could be whipped up in 5 minutes. "
Humor, reality television, and emojis are all used to punch against neoliberalism, racism, and social injustice. "I guess there's a lot of my unconscious that also surfaces - and issues around feminism, mental health, sexuality and gender, and feelings that I need to express," says Mac.
Mac views GIFs as part of a whole. "The repetitive movement is hypnotic but also can be overly stimulating, I like this tension. I also spend a lot of time looking at all my gifs together on the page, juxtaposed with my other images, so I wouldn't think of any single one as an 'artwork' but the whole sum of them all as the project."