In his 1968 sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick envisioned a future filled with space planes and moonbuses. If he’d been a true prophet and looked as far ahead as 2016, he might’ve anticipated his masterpiece being sliced into hundreds of animated GIFs. To create 2001: A GIF Odyssey, digital producer and copywriter Jean-Baptiste Henri Franck Cyrille Marie Le Divelec, who goes by JB, cut the two hour and 41-minute long saga into 569 animated GIFs. On a website hosted by GIPHY, you can watch the entire film as a series of infinite loops, laid out in a dazzling mosaic of man-apes and monoliths. The GIFs are silent, lacking the film’s famous classical score, but the sparse dialogue is included in subtitles.
The project is more than just a way to enrage film snobs by turning the notoriously slow film into bite-sized chunks for the attention-challenged web generation. As JB explains in a trailer that outlines his intention, it’s also an experiment in testing the limitations of Fair Use doctrine. Most GIFs are made from copyrighted material, but because GIFs are soundless and contain only 256 colors, the GIF format is usually protected from copyright infringement arguments by the Fair Use doctrine. At least, it is in most cases — there have been many instances of individuals or corporations claiming copyright infringement when their copyrighted footage has been turned into GIFs.
By turning 2001: A Space Odyssey into GIFs without permission from Kubrick’s estate, JB is testing the limitations of Fair Use, provoking the copyright police to come after him. “Will this page get shut down? Will Fair Use doctrine prevail? Will it break the internet?” JB asks in the trailer. We shall see. JB hopes to build his own website featuring all 569 GIFs and including the film’s score, which he says is available on the internet copyright-free. In the meantime, before the DCMA descends upon the site, check out 2001: A GIF Odyssey in its entirety here.