Paul Pfeiffer does Paris Hilton...

Paris Hilton by Paul Pfeiffer

"There's an interesting kind of resonance that I see between this idea of a formula for salvation and eternal life and the promise of digital media that never break down and literally can live forever--that can always be copied endlessly. In a way, the medium itself represents a kind of promise that almost has spiritual overtones."

- tom moody 8-06-2006 3:55 am

I can't help but see someone who is so practiced in her public image that this default setting pose she uses becomes a zen center around which the rest of the world revolves.
- kara (guest) 8-08-2006 4:31 pm


For the record, Pfeiffer didn't do this GIF. But I think this is more interesting on a content level than his "basketball" piece, his "breakthrough" in the art world. Similar to what's happening in this GIF, a basketball became the "zen center of the universe." He took a bunch of found TV closeups of balls in play, during actual games. In every shot the ball was centered in the frame, so by stringing together all the individual shots as a continuous animation, the ball appeared to hover in the center of the screen while a frenetic mashup of basketball game activity whirls and swirls all around it.

It's kind of gimmick, but it was a nice piece--it did you give you the impression of a mystical "first ball" or holy grail like ur-ball. And as you can see from the Pfeiffer quote above, he likes the religious associations in talking about the work.

Anyway, between that mystical layer and the unfamiliar "how did he do it?" tech novelty, the rather-easily-wowed-by-unfamiliar-tech art world was completely wowed, hailing Pfeiffer as a genius, and as often happens, that translated into market recognition and he now shows at Gagosian gallery.

I have no idea who made this GIF, or if the person is familiar with Paul Pfeiffer, but this is actually a richer variant of the idea. Not as complex as Pfeiffer's in terms of the number of background stills, but his basketball was a bland generic object, easily morphed 100 times, while this GIF shows us a human face which ostensibly is capable of a vast range of emotions but because it's Paris Hilton, is ultimately as bland and "morphable" as that bouncing orb. As you say, it's her default setting pose, as responsible for her fame as her naughty porn loop.

And all Pfeiffer's fancy religious associations are there--the Madonna, the frozen angelic pose, Botticelli, and so forth. In contradiction with Hilton becoming famous for being a "harlot."

Anyway, I think it's a fair assumption that you won't be seeing this GIF at Gagosian any time soon. Anonymous internet trash vs known philosophical computer genius: the art world needs its stars--only one genius per art world. In fairness, Pfeiffer did a couple of other pieces before becoming canonized--this GIF could very well be a one-off. And this internet trash could never trump Pfeiffer because now he "owns" the idea.

- tom moody 8-08-2006 6:19 pm

This girl took a photo of herself every day for three years and then made it into a short movie.
- jim 8-09-2006 12:10 am

Oy--it won't stream in Quicktime. I've been sort of refusing to load Real or use WMP on this new computer.

But here's Abby Walton: as Travis Hallenbeck says, "a photo a day, same expression."
- tom moody 8-09-2006 12:40 am

Don't worry, the one I linked is not that great - just the same effect.
- jim 8-09-2006 1:28 am

Thanks, I'll look at it w*rk, where those players are installed.
- tom moody 8-09-2006 2:15 am

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