They’ve seduced us haven’t they? They’re passed around as animated gifs which makes them even more light and shareable. No buffering time, you get your kicks in seconds, what’s not to like?
The thing that strikes me is that behind the frivolity and the hedonism of watching animals and people do funny things on loop, lies something softer and more subtle that has lent itself to their popularity.
Think of those videos of old, like the ones from the History Channel archives. Silent films, ranks of soldiers marching in Hitler’s Germany, arms swinging faster than usual. Think of the grainy family footage from the Wonder Years, of baby Kevin Arnold splashing about in an inflated pool .
The visual quality of the looped video phenomenon has a lot in common with this kind of impressionistic footage, wouldn’t you agree? They’re often silent, equally grainy and visceral, and allow you to use your imagination to fill in the gaps.
It corresponds with the way we remember things, speeding up time, making summaries of things, jettisoning linearity and savouring of the moments that mattered.
There’s some high quality content out there on YouTube archiving every day in the life of the world, but if the popularity of SnapChat and Vine are to be taken into account, a precis version of our culture is being created too.