GIFs are usually only a few seconds long, but Finnish artist Juha van Ingen has created one that will run for the next 1,000 years. Or so he hopes, anyway.
Named “As Long As Possible” or “ASLAP”, the world’s longest GIF is a “very optimistic” artwork because it relies on future generations to take responsibility and keep it running until it reaches its end, in the year 3017. Hopefully, someone will still be around then to see the last of the 48,140,288 frames that make up this record-breaking GIF.
ASLAP is definitely not the most visually-attractive GIF ever created, as it consists of simple white numbers on a black background, with each frame changing every 10 minutes. But then again, simplicity is exactly what the Finnish artist was going for when he came up with the idea for this unusual artwork.
“This work is special in our days because of what first comes to mind when I tell someone about it – ‘It simply cannot go on forever,'” Juha van Ingen said in an interview. “Yet GIF is the simplest form of animation in existence in the digital format. If it seems an impossible thought that a simple animation can just be kept going, then what happens to all other information we have? Our images, sounds, films, archives, and so on?”
The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, in Finland, recently acquired As Long As Possible for its collection, and has assumed responsibility for keeping it playing for the next 1,000 years. After the exhibition ends, the museum plans to keep it running for as long as possible, in its archives.
But what if something goes wrong with the hardware, what if the power goes out, right? Well, Juha van Ingen thought about that as well, and he decided to take a few precautions. The same ASLAP file on display at Kiasma museum, is simultaneously on several synchronized physical playback units in different locations. If any of them fails in the next 1,000 years, which is very likely, a new physical unit will be built to replace it.
And if that wasn’t good enough, in the unlikely case that all units get destroyed at the same time, the Finnish artist also had a back up file of the GIF hidden away in a time capsule. It contains the original GIF, a description of ASLAP, all the specification of GIF as a format, and printed copies of the code so it can be generated again.
So as long as the human race doesn’t get wiped out by aliens or a natural catastrophe, and someone is committed to keep ASLAP running, this world’s longest GIF may actually make it to the year 3017.
Like that scratched Lamborghini Gallardo at ARoS Kunstmuseum, in Denmark, “As Long As Possible” is a work of art, so try not to look at it with “what’s the point?” in mind. Modern art is apparently not meant to make sense.
And just in case we don’t discover the secret to eternal life in the next few years, here is the last frame scheduled to be displayed in 3017 (you’re welcome!):