Existential GIFs That’ll Make You Question Your Daily Grind
Everyone has a routine. Wake up, get dressed, grab a coffee, go to work, go home, sleep. The next day? Do it all again. When filmmaker and photographer Julien Douvier realized he’d been doing the same thing every morning for three years, did something about it.
He made GIFs.
Routine began while Douvier was an intern at MAETVA, a graphic design agency not far from the art school he attended, L’Institut Superieur des Arts Appliqués, in Strasbourg, France. He realized that after three years of school, he was waking at the same time and making the same trip in the same car to the same tramway to go to the same station to walk the same route to the same neighborhood. “It was a bit strange for me to still do all these exact same things, because I thought my life was going to change immediately after the end of my studies, but it wasn’t the case at all,” Douvier says.
Douvier enjoyed a two-hour lunch each day, so he started bringing a camera to work to pass the time. Inevitably, this too became a part of his daily routine. So, in December of 2013, Douvier decided the capture the day-to-day monotony by spending two weeks turning his camera on strangers. “When I filmed these strangers, it was maybe the 50th time, the 100th time or more that they were walking here, in front of these buildings, because they were maybe also ‘stuck’ in a routine phenomenon.”
To start, he first sought interesting backgrounds. Once he found one, he’d place his Canon 600D (with a 17-50 Tamron lens) on a tripod, frame the shot, and wait for someone to pass by. The dreary winter weather often kept people indoors, so Douvier often spent an hour or more waiting to get just a short clip. “Sometimes I was able to shoot several videos during my lunch break, and sometimes I returned to work with nothing and had to wait for the next day,” he says.
Once he finished gathering footage, Douvier imported the images into video editing software. From here, he would multiply a person several times, loop their movements, and make small adjustments to correct the light and color. “Even if I tweaked them a bit, I wanted to keep the images very natural, just like I saw them with my own eyes,” he says.
The results are mesmerizing GIFs of tiny figures marching against the daily grind. Douvier suggests listening to “Happiness Does Not Wait” by Ólafur Arnalds when viewing Routine. “It sounds sad, but full of hope at the same time, like evolving to something better,” he says.
“Even if we are ‘stuck in a routine’, it’s still an evolution. It looks like it’s the same thing all the time, but it’s not, we keep evolving and that routine will change one day or another,” he says.