Critics’ Picks

  • Linus Bill + Adrien Horni, GIFs, 2020, index of 500 GIFs on random rotation, LED screens, programmed computer, LED display controller, each screen 78 1/2 x 59 x 1 1/2".

    Linus Bill + Adrien Horni, GIFs, 2020, index of 500 GIFs on random rotation, LED screens, programmed computer, LED display controller, each screen 78 1/2 x 59 x 1 1/2".

    Paris

    Linus Bill + Adrien Horni

    Galerie Allen
    59 rue de Dunkerque
    December 17, 2020–January 30, 2021

    “GIFs,” 2020, Linus Bill and Adrien Horni’s latest work, is both a product and critique of our collective digital dependence, a reliance that has taken on complex new forms under lockdown. Created on smartphones, the artists’ “moving paintings” flicker across LED displays whose proportions and verticality suggest supersized and ultraluminous touch screens.

    Reclaiming passive solitary screen time in the name of creative collaboration, Bill + Horni set a goal back in early 2020 to produce and share five GIFs daily. For months they traded files via WhatsApp, composing colorful collages of [could add “original”] digital drawings, imagery grabbed from the internet, and emojis from their iPhone’s camera roll. This socially distant practice resulted in some three thousand GIFs, which the duo culled down to five hundred twenty-second animations that pulsate across three large screens like an endless stream of nonsensical pop-ups. Gestural, brightly colored abstract forms mingle with silly cartoons including walking dollar bills, a gorilla wearing violet boxing gloves, and a jogging pink pig.

    In the humble tradition of GIFs, Bill + Horni’s animated files provide welcome distractions from doomscrolling as well as the monotony of our severely restricted IRL existence. Silly and short, they arouse nostalgia for a simpler digital age. But beneath the kitsch appeal of jumpy stop-motion pacing and charmingly gawky illustrations (similar in style to Amy Sillman’s iPad drawings), “GIFs” strikes a nerve. Forever flashing and rotating, these algorithmically randomized loops grab our attention only to thwart sustained concentration—a poignant reflection on how digital media restructure our worldview.