“Space Tours for the Modern Citizen” by Nate Kogan – For NSFW GIFs go to his site

Sometimes my eyes glaze over with yet another press release describing something as “the newest trend” or “fashionable.” Even more so if the thing being described is a brand of tzatziki.  Or do I prefer that? Fashionable tzatziki over the latest fall 2012 shoe trends? Whatever. My point is that with the amount of clutter that clogs up my computer screen, it often takes something like an animated GIF of F-cup tits with a frantic “CLICK HERE, CLICK HERE, CLICK HERE” for me to spit my drink and really take notice. When I stumbled upon local artist Nate Kogan’s website, I was hooked. What the hell is this? Within minutes I messaged him on FB, “Hey Nate, I like your GIF porn.” We made a coffee date.

I won’t waste time trying to describe Nate’s art. You can see it right here. Basically, it’s hyper-sexual, psychedelic GIFS of half-naked girls clad in zany costumes doing naughty things with their mouths. On repeat. Although conservative types, or conventional art critics, may label Nate’s web art as drug-induced porn (I mean, it is) there’s no denying that his work represents a potential big shift in the art world. Don’t be scared! I’ll explain. Or better, Nate will.

“Right now there’s a big retrospective online. People are taking a look at how the internet was in the early days and they are using that aesthetic to create new pieces. It’s all part of a movement called the ‘new aesthetic.’ It’s kind of like going retro on the internet but instead of it being the 70s, it’s like ’94 or ’97. Not that long ago…but the internet grows so quickly that it becomes retro really quickly. That’s the resurgence, the first block of internet art coming out.” Shit getting crazy. 

He calls his take on the new aesthetic “Hubba Bubba.” Like a wad of gum, Nate describes his art as “…sugary, addictive and in 9 seconds it’s gone. It’s very disposable.” Although the term disposable might make his work sound like garbage, Nate is on to something, “Everything I do, doesn’t exist. It exists digitally but nothing I do is physical. It’s potential is limitless!” It’s also cheap to create and forces us to ask, why would anyone spend money to create stuff for a gallery when you can make it online and have it viewed by millions? People buy art and commission art from the internet too, you know. This is not to say that galleries will lose their influence but the playing field is much bigger now and it’s important that cultural and educational institutions adapt.

Right now, the most exciting, promising and powerful medium for communication is online. For artists, actors and musicians, their work has the potential to get noticed not only by the masses, but by the individuals who work for companies who value innovation and who are always seeking the next big thing. It’s not always easy, and you have to stand out, but it can be a terrific way to build a career. Heck, if you’re loud enough on Twitter, you can be your own publicist! Nate describes the online art world as “democratic” and “accessible.” He’s already taking calls from local stores who want groovy animated window displays and labels who are looking for an original way to add a little something to an album release party. 

“Are they teaching GIF art at Emily Carr and OCAD?” I ask.

“Not at all. There are very few people who take this seriously.” Says Nate. But they really should be because this generation of art school kids will have always grown up with the internet; they were born into it. It appears to be the space they are most comfortable in.

Beyond people watching and eavesdropping on awkward moments, Nate gets a lot of his inspiration from the Tumblr blogs of sixteen-year-olds. “They speak differently, dress differently and interact online in their own way.” With more programs and downloads available every second, the tools and accessibility to create inspiring and wow-worthy projects online is at their fingertips. For the first time in history, students likely view Tumblr as a more promising platform to launch a career than the physical space of a reputable gallery. 

Now, not everyone has to make dirty GIF art. You can make GIF art of dancing ponies, jumping dolphins or waterfalls!!!!<3 If you want. New York collective, Reed and Rader, has been making cool GIFS for years and most of their work is PG. (If you love Magic Pony, you’ll love Reed and Rader) Nate admires the NYC artists but prefers playing in the sexual space . Why? He is “blown away by a big dick.” Like most of us, enormous tits will also catch his eye. “Sex..that stuff captures your attention like nothing else. It hijacks eyeballs.” We are primal beings with urges.

Although he is drawn to extremes his muses take on many shapes and sizes. He likes the imperfections in humanity and will almost always work with a vibrant character he knows over contacting a modelling agency. He is naturally attracted to characters who project “a bit of craziness.” But it’s not all tits and ass; Nate’s work tells a story. I find his work with GIFS to be imaginative, fun and thought-provoking. They offer up fantasy, humour and a naughty adventure that you script yourself. Next up, he’s going to create a GIF about a hipster goth eating pizza. Did I get that right, Nate?

While Nate may have started a local movement with his “Hubba Bubba Gif Art,” his switch from provocative stills to animated GIFS is fairly recent. “The whole GIF thing started eight months ago. It’s a baby.” He says. What do I say? NURTURE THE BABY! In that wild online space, she’s going to grow up at warp speed. But what do I know; I just think his stuff is cool. Now, back to that trendy tzatiki….opa!

P.S 2012 is the 25th anniversary of the GIF. HOW OLD DO YOU FEEL???

~ Jen McNeely