AS Long As Possible (ASLAP)
A GIF animation loop, 2015, Duration 1,000 years
The animation was started in Helsinki 28th March 2017 at 12:00:49.154 EEST in ARS17 exhibition in KIASMA. ASLAP will be kept playing continuously until 3017 in the collection of The National Gallery of Finland.
ASLAP is an art project by visual artist Juha van Ingen. The animation was created in collaboration with developer and sound artist Janne Särkelä and the GIF Player 2.0 was programmed by coder Jani Lindqvist.
In spring 2020 art historian Susanna Sääskilahti from the Finnish National Gallery started an ASLAP archival/documentation project with the help of Janne Särkelä, Jani Lindqvist and Juha van Ingen.
"The work turns eternity into a composition, unravelling the dimensions of time into chunks we can comprehend while also invoking questions of digital decay." - Hyperallergic
".. a wake-up call about the meaninglessness and impermanence of the constant stream of net effluvia we digest." - Vice
"With 1,000 years of GIF-life ahead of us, there´s no excuse not to see this GIF at some point in your ― comparatively ― short, short life." - Milk
ASLAP is made of black frames with a white number indicating the frames position in the loop starting from 1. There are 48 140 288 frames which change in c.a. 11 minute intervals making the total duration of the loop 1000 years. The looping function is coded into the GIF file so when the last frame has been played the animation starts automatically playing the loop from the beginning. The ultimate goal is to keep ASLAP playing forever.
"The common thought when people hear of ASLAP is that it will no way run for a 1000 years. If it seems unrealistic that a GIF file could be maintained by several national institutions what chance do all our own digital videos, images and documents have to survive?..."
".. An animation of nothing else other than slowly changing frame numbers might seem a bit boring but I think it makes it more exciting if you know that the next people to see the same frames of the animation you have just seen will live a 1000 years from now...." - Juha van Ingen
The ASLAP GIF file is cloned and will play continuously at the same pace on several synchronised physical playback units. The playback units will be kept in museums/archives in different countries. When one unit is destroyed in a war or in a natural disaster - or when it needs to be technically upgraded - a new physical unit is built and the animation file can be synchronised with the remaining units.
The program which plays the animation will have to be upgraded in the future, at the latest when the computers as we know them become obsolete. GIF was designed in 1987 and is a very simple file format in today's standards so it should be possible for the people of the future to find ways to keep the animation playing.
Additionally there are five stainless steel time capsules which contain all necessary documentation for recreating the animation and to set it playing from the right frame. The time capsules are made for the worst case scenario where all playback units are destroyed at the same time by some huge catastrophe. Though it is likely that the surviving people might have other priorities if such a devastating event would happen.
The playing loops/ playback units have to be safely kept in the premises where they are deposited and can not be loaned or sold. To be able to show ASLAP in exhibitions and festivals to a wider audiences there is also a transportable playback unit. The transportable unit is identical to the other playback units and when switched on it starts playing the loop from the same frame and in the same pace as the units playing the animation continuously.
The transportable ASLAP (frames 77739 - 82371) was exhibited for the first time 7.11-12.12 2018 in LIMA Amsterdam as a part of a exhibition series: Cultural Matter curated by Sanneke Huismann.
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a file format developed by CompuServe in 1987 and come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability. GIF is still among the most popular image formats on the Internet.
In the early days of World Wide Web, GIF was the most popular tool for artists working on on-line projects. But in mid 90s the technically more versatile Flash took over as the number one creative tool for presenting art works on-line. Recently with the huge success of photo-sharing services such as Instagram, Flickr and Tumblr GIF has had its second coming and has regained its popularity also as an artistic medium.
The specifications of GIF on The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)website.
The name of ASLAP is homage to the John Cage composition "ORGAN2/ASLSP" (1987) which is played with Halberstad organs for the next 625 years. The abbreviation of Cage's composition included and instruction to the performer of the piece: As SLow aS Possible.
- Van Ingen gets the idea of making ASLAP and started to work out how it can be done.
- Developer and sound artist Janne Särkelä was invited to collaborate in building the GIF animation.
- In August the animation was ready and it was decided that it will be started in 2017 when GIF turns 30.
- The concept of ASLAP was presented 10.9.-20.9. in an exhibition at FISH Gallery in Helsinki.
- Writer and journalist Claire Voon from Hyperallergic was the first person to write about ASLAP.
- "The Itch for Eternity" an essay on AS Long As Possible by writer and curator Pontus Kyander was published online.
- Coder Jouni Miikki started to develop the program for playing the ASLAP file.
- KIASMA proposed to acquire the first ASLAP playback unit and it was decided that the animation would be started in the opening of ARS17 exhibition and kept playing continuously by the museum until 3017.
- The drafting of the agreement started with the help of Legal Counsel of the Finnish National Gallery Tuula Hämäläinen. It was a long process as it had to cover the special aspects of ASLAP including fundamental questions about maintenance and presentation for the next 1000 years.
- The agreement between Juha van Ingen and the Finnish National Gallery was finalised.
- Coder Jani Lindqvist took on the task to develop the player.
- The stainless steel cases for the playback units and time capsules were crafted by Jukka Merta.
- In March Jani Lindqvist finalised the ASLAP 2.0 player.
- The first time capsule was deposited in to KUMU collection on the 18th March.
- The animation was started on 28th March 2017 at 12:00 EEST in ARS17 exhibition in KIASMA and it was kept continuously playing during the whole exhibition (frames 1-38538).
- On 15th June (ASLAP frames: 10458 - 10468) a celebration for GIF format turning 30 was held at Galleria Rankka lounge in Helsinki. The program consisted of 8bit sounds by Janne Särkelä and artist Jarkko Räsänen, a selection of GIF's by Juha van Ingen and a birthday cake made by Mai van Ingen.
- 14th Jan the ASLAP playback unit was moved into the collection storage in KIASMA building where it is kept continuously playing until it is exhibited the next time by the museum.
- The transportable ASLAP (frames 77739 - 82371) was exhibited for the first time 7.11-12.12 in LIMA Amsterdam as a part of a exhibition series: Cultural Matter curated by art historian and curator Sanneke Huismann.
- Opening event in LIMA with Juha van Ingen in conversation with heritage curator Cécile Dazord and media art conservator Alexandre Michaan.
- A digital publication As long as possible was published with texts by: Cécile Dazord, Sanneke Huismann, Juha van Ingen, Pontus Kyander, artist Jan Robert Leegte, Alexandre Michaan, director of LIMA Gaby Wijers and artist-researcher Kari Yli-Annala.
- Curator Kati Kivinen (KIASMA) talks about AS Long As Possible in LIMA.
- 11th. October The Institut finlandais in Paris exhibited transportable ASLAP for one day (frames 122258 - 122307).
- On the same day, a discussion was held in the auditorium, with an introduction to ASLAP by Alexandre Michaan followed by a discussion about digital art in historical context and its preservation strategies with Juha van Ingen, Philippe Bettinelli, the curator at CNAP, and Virginie Lemarchand, who is in charge of collection and restoration of works at Frac Franche-Comté. The event was initiated by Cécile Dazord.
- On Sun Oct 20 2019 13:03:05 GMT+0300 the 123456th frame of ASLAP played and the ocasion was celebrated in Van Ingen's studio with some friends. The frame made its appearance on the screen of an old Sony TV which was plugged in to the transportable ASLAP unit.
- In spring 2020 Susanna Sääskilahti from the Finnish National Gallery started an archival/documentation project to restore the technical details of ASLAP for research purposes. Janne Särkelä and Jani Linqvist will ducument in detail the code and functions of the ASLAP GIF-file and the 2.0 GIF player for future generations.
Thanks to the following institutions for support:
- Making of the GIF file in 2015 was supported by AVEK.
- Alfred Kordelin foundation has supported the making the time capsules.
- KIASMA made it possible to start ASLAP in 2017.
- KUMU was the first institution to deposit a timecapsule.
- FRAME supported the exhibiting of the portable ASLAP in LIMA.
- TAIKE, FRAME and Institut finlandais made it possible to show the portable ASLAP in Paris.
- Developer and sound artist Janne Särkelä for building the GIF file and being highly involved in the whole process of making ASLAP happen.
- My family Hanna and Mai van Ingen for patience and support.
- Writer and journalist Claire Voon for writing the first article on ASLAP.
- Writer and curator Pontus Kyander for the essay "The Itch for Eternity".
- Coders Jani Lindqvist and Jouni Miikki for developing the GIF player for ASLAP.
- Director of KIASMA Leevi Haapala and curator of ARS17 in KIASMA Arja Miller for acquiring ASLAP for KIASMA.
- Legal Counsel of the Finnish National Gallery Tuula Hämäläinen for helping to draft the agreemet for the first ASLAP playback unit.
- Director of the Art Museum of Estonia Anu Liivak for starting the process of depositing the time capsule in KUMU.
- Head of the Contemporary Art Collection of the Art Museum of Estonia Annika Räim for organising the time capsule sealing event in KUMU.
- Heritage curator Cécile Dazord for writing a text for As long as possible and helping in getting the publication together, talking in LIMA Amsterdam, initiating the talk in Institut finlandais and helping in many other ways to get ASLAP exhibited in France.
- Media art conservator Alexandre Michaan for writing a text for As long as possible and talking in LIMA and Institut finlandais.
- Director of LIMA Gaby Wijers for for writing a text for As long as possible and inviting to exhibit ASLAP in LIMA.
- Art historian and curator Sanneke Huismann for writing a text for As long as possible, curating the ASLAP exhibition and organizing the talks in LIMA.
- Artist Jan Robert Leegte for writing a text for As long as possible.
- Artists-researcher Kari Yli-Annala for writing a text for As long as possible.
- Curator and translator Laurie Hurwitz for translating the text for As long as possible.
- Curator of KIASMA Kati Kivinen for talking in LIMA.
- Director of Institut finlandais Johanna Råman for invitation to exhibit ASLAP and arange a talk in Institut finlandais.
- Curator of CNAP Philippe Bettinelli for talking in Institut finlandais.
- Virginie Lemarchand, who is in charge of collection and restoration of works at Frac Franche-Comté for talking in Institut finlandais.
- Susanna Sääskilahti from the Finnish National Gallery for starting the documentation /archival project of ASLAP.
The background and arthistorical context of ASLAP:For more background information and writings on ASLAP download the As long as possible publication with texts by: Heritage curator Cécile Dazord, arthistorian and curator Sanneke Huismann, visual artist Juha van Ingen, writer and curator Pontus Kyander, artist Jan Robert Leegte, media art conservator Alexandre Michaan, director of LIMA Gaby Wijers and artist-researcher Kari Yli-Annala. Translation from French to English by curator and translator Laurie Hurwitz.
As long as possible publication (PDF 2,6 Mb)
Get in contact if you want to support the ASLAP project, are interested in exhibiting the transportable ASLAP or are interested in writing about ASLAP and need permission for photographs.
contact (at) aslongaspossible.com
Juha van Ingen / ASLAP PL 1147 00101 Helsinki Finland