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F H D  on  Y T M N D:

Femme Horror Montage (No, No, No) and This is Not a Layer (Kill Me)

Gif animations as a genre are static and creepy, made with slick graphic features but reduced to old-school roughness in their execution. Looped and layered images are isolated and suspended indefinitely; it is as if time slows down as we internet viewers piece together cultural reference, visual patterns, pop rhythms and appropriated sound effects with the lazy expertise of a post-modern brain.  [YTMND|http://ytmnd.com/] is the perfect vehicle for instant gratification, attention deficit, and cultural commentary stripped to its bare visual and audio components.

Femme Horror Montage (No, No, No) uses YTMND conventions to play with feminist discourses surrounding the horror genre and the claim that horror films are necessarily elaborate misogynistic scenarios.  Meshing lots of images of white female "victims" from iconic horror films highlights the implicit narrative pattern in such characters and hints at the psychic embeddedness of these stereotypical representations. At the same time, the inherent oddness of the gif/layer animation and the self-conscious use of pop mash-ups remains playful and ironic enough to also question essentializing "feminist" psychoanalytical assertions about male fear, female sexuality, and heterosexual desire in film narratives. 

These "victim images" may disturb us on some level, but the disjointedness of their movement displaces our unease with humor; while the sound of a woman saying "no" may be initially disquieting, the repetition and rhythm of her cries become absorbed by the pleasureability of the aesthetic.  In this way, our viewing of FHM mirrors our viewing of horror films and other implicitly misogynist narrative patterns.  We participate in the naturalized viewing of these images, yet during the animation we cannot help but notice the construction of frames, filters, color and rhythm.  YTMND itself becomes a tool of cultural and filmic denaturalization.

This is Not a Layer (Kill Me)is more image-sparse and perhaps less obvious in its assertions about representations of female victimhood.  The Magritte reference, simple graphic sensibility, and victim "mantra" of the looped sound effect ("kill me") all assert abstract elements of cultural dissent in their self-consciousness.  The contradiction inherent in using photoshop layers to animate the sentence "This is Not a Layer" is meant to mirror the contrast between the image of a struggling woman victim with the sound of a woman begging to be killed.  Like Magritte's pipe, these contradictions are apt: what we see is obviously no longer just a layer but a series of layers that merge with audio elements to form openly repetitive narratives.  Similarly, while a white female victim character may enact a struggle, the narrative pattern implicit in the dominant representation of the horror genre prefigures her victimhood.

SG, 3-21-2007 

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