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Date Minted:  January 31, 2020

Artist Description: 1000x1000 / 50 Frames / 6.2 MB / GIF  

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Boy, you don’t want to look at this one for too long. Or maybe you do. Maybe we don’t even have a choice. It’s literally hypnotic, and you find yourself falling, falling, falling into it. Regardless, don’t let the simplistic name or the simplistic aesthetics fool you: Triangle is a piece of incredible power, psychological potency, and technical wizardry. And it may or may not hurt your eyes after a while. But Triangle is exactly the kind of thing that artist Pi-Slices does. According to his SuperRare Bio, “Pi-Slices is a GIF artist whose work is focused on creating satisfying, surreal, and seamless loops. The 3D animated artworks from his daily GIF series have been featured in publications like The Guardian, Washington Post, Co.Design, and CBC Arts. Since 2014, these daily animations have been viewed over 1.5 billion times on Giphy. Previous clients include Nike, Nissan, BBC Two, and Jai Wolf.” One can see immediately why his work is so in-demand: the seamlessness of the looping videos, the often brilliance of the 3D imagery, and the way unmatched technical complexity is married to highly-satisfying aesthetic simplicity, all of it communicates that Pi-Slices is peerless in his own hyper-specific lane. And that’s really what I want to get at here, that despite the wide technical prowess, Pi-Slices has opted to focus his artistry into a thin tunnel: looping, 3D GIFs that communicate a sense of infinity. These GIFs have taken many forms, and none are very much like any other. Still, Triangle is, among its peers, singularly mesmerizing, singularly seamless, and unique in terms of aesthetics. It’s trippy, deviously simple, but exists near the height of its craft. Like so much of Pi-Slices’ work, it’s easy to get lost in. Though I’m concerned that, staring into it too deeply, I’ll lose consciousness and wake up a week from now somewhere in Dubai, a murder weapon in my hands, an international incident well underway, and I mindlessly at fault.

Perhaps I’ve just seen too many cartoons. Some mustachioed evil-doer, wearing cape and hat, unveils their hypnosis device, black and white and swirling and, most of all, effective. An entire town, city, government, team of superheroes, etc. proves unable to escape its thrall. I can almost hear the villain laugh. And I hear him laugh again and again every time I flip back over to look at Triangle again. I myself can’t stand looking at it directly for too long; it gives me a headache. Perhaps it’s meant to. Triangle is an optical illusion of sorts, a simple piece built out of a simple movement of black and white lines. The rectangular frame itself is filled with alternating black and white bars that travel slowly down its length, a never-ending escalator of Hamburglar hues. Directly in the center of this piece, however, there’s an obvious visual distortion. A perfectly triangular section (isosceles by the looks of it) of the rectangle has been carved out, the triangle pointed down, and all the black-and-white bars within it moving conversely to all the others around it. The effect is mind-bending, as the converse movement of the lines creates crazy color combinations, a visual dementedness, and produces an almost-hallucinatory effect. It also makes the piece quite uncomfortable to look at for some time, as that incongruent movement messes with your sense of sight, creating a stress headache almost at once. 

Again, the aesthetics aren’t necessarily the impressive aspect of the piece, though they are quite interesting in their own right. The fact is that this piece is an endless loop that does not skip a single beat at the point at which it repeats itself. It itself is an endless escalator that never stops, stutters, or reveals its machinations. This is Pi-Slices’ ever-present and self-professed goal, and while the end/beginning of each loop is usually quite hidden in their works, it is rarely this perfectly fluid. You can usually see, you know, something off if you’re trying your best. Not so much here. If viewing Triangle within MOCA’s Genesis Collection, we can see that the video itself lasts only a single second, yet good luck pointing out the exact place at which the loop begins again. It is hidden completely behind the aesthetics, or perhaps we are too mesmerized elsewhere to notice it at all. Perhaps the way the optics mess with our sense of identifying movement preclude of from identifying anything minute within that movement itself. 

In Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Frank Abagnale Jr., has a conversation with Christopher Walken, who plays his father, Frank Abagnale Sr. :

      Frank Abagnale Sr. : You know why the Yankees always win, Frank?
      Frank Abagnale, Jr. : 'Cause they have Mickey Mantle?
      Frank Abagnale Sr. : No, it's 'cause the other teams can't stop staring at those damn pinstripes.

I find myself thinking of this exchange as I look again at Triangle. I’m thinking about what a master of craft Pi-Slices is, the deep and foundational way he understands the components of his piece: the screen, the frame, the very video format itself, and how he unites the three to create a piece that uses all three aspects to overcome the limitations of each singularly. Triangle is an exploration as much of the artist’s toolkit as it is of any given effect created, and what is created in that confluence is something profound enough that it literally gives us a headache, has a physical effect on our physiology, and does so, as always, without giving away any of its artist’s secrets. 

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