Finnish Museum commits to playing a 1,000 year long GIF to the bitter end

Modern art is weird, and it’ll only get weirder as artists continue to integrate new media into their art. Just the other day I visited a respected museum and sat through a video installation that was a bunch of random Youtube clips from the early 2000s. You know, ‘art’.

However, Finns have found an impressive way to integrate GIFs into art — by making them long as hell. Last month the Museum of Contemporary Art in Finland, Kiasma, began displaying an ambitious 1,000 year long GIF by Finnish artist Juha van Ingen.

Van Ingen’s installation is called AS Long As Possible (ASLAP) and is symbolically exhibited this year, marking Finland’s 100 years of independence and GIF turning 30 years old.

Credit: ASLAP - Juha van Ingen
If the GIF is too fast for you, then you can also enjoy magnificent stills from ASLAP

The GIF isn’t exactly visually stunning as it consists of 48,140,288 frames of white numbers on a black background. ASLAP will count up from one, displaying each frame for around 10 minutes, until it reaches its end in the year 3017. A truly thrilling piece of art.

Van Ingen, admits that this is a very optimistic art work as it relies on future generations taking responsibility for it. However, he hopes this ‘small digital candle’ will shine for the next 1,000 years.

Kiasma plans to do just that. By buying the piece for its collection and committing to keep the work running. After the exhibition ends it will play in their archives for as long as possible. But van Ingen doesn’t want to put all his eggs in one basket.

The ASLAP file will run simultaneously on several synchronised physical playback units at different locations. Also, if a unit happens to be destroyed in a major catastrophe, like war or natural disaster, a new physical unit will be built and synchronized with the others.

But wait, there’s more. In the case of all playback units being destroyed there’s a backup stowed away in a special time capsule. This capsule contains the original GIF, description of ASLAP, all the specification of GIF as a format, and even printed copies of the code to generate a new file.

So the ‘digital candle’ might actually make it until 3017.

It’ll be interesting to see if the museum will show the same level of dedication to Shia Labeouf.

Read next: Samsung is reportedly prototyping a dual-screen smartphone