Have you ever sat down to binge-watch your favorite box set, with the nagging feeling that you don’t have enough popcorn to make it through to the finale? If only there was a way to mainline the X-Files all at once—every episode playing simultaneously, on a single screen, a kind of dark magic that could send you into a condensed, alien-fueled stupor.
Well, because the Internet is the Internet, of course that exists already. Here it is:
By now we are all familiar with supercuts, the fast-paced, heavily edited odes to video culture. But have you met the supercut’s strange goth cousin? These are the videos that, instead of playing clips back-to-back, smash them all together in one simultaneous, terrifying fog of video art. Let’s call them “superfuses.”
There are videos that employ this technique as far back as 2009, but they are often difficult to search for, as many are named for their content and not their form. Last month YouTuber Benjamin Roberts struck a viral chord with his brilliant “We Used to be Friends,” which overlaid every episode of season one of “Friends” into a single, ten-minute video. The faint theme song, the fleshy warm palette, the echoing of canned laughter—it all added up to a sum greater than its parts, and suddenly, the ubiquitous sitcom had been abstracted into art.
The superfuse’s existence is a technological feat as well as an artistic one; not only do we now have access to the entire 236-episode series of “Friends” on Netflix, we also have access to the computing power to play them all at once. The amount of data we can consume, interpret and edit today seems to be limited only by our capacity for gluttony. While data visualizations aim to interpret large sets of information to derive meaning, the superfuse aims aim for obfuscation. It is the visual and aural representation of our overwhelming, cacophonous online culture. Here, for example, are all 156 episodes of the Twilight Zone, shoved into one frame.
The superfuse can be profound. It can also be profoundly disturbing, as is the case in Frozen Cluster Fuck, which stacks every single song from Disney’s “Frozen” into a single track. It’s as if you’ve suddenly become telepathic and can hear the thoughts of every person in a five-block radius. But this kind of cacophony can also be meditative, as it refuses any instincts you might have to focus on any one element. As in the Futurism art movement of the early 1900s, the simultaneity builds an emotional atmosphere as opposed to a recognizable form. It feels a little like the white-noise machine Morticia Adams might have used to lull a young Wednesday to sleep.
There is a certain relief in acknowledging the overwhelming amount of information we have access to. With the superfuse, we can collapse time, fitting 25 years of Simpsons couch gags into a minute-long morsel. We can now let an entire Joanna Newsom album wash over us in a sonic bath of psychedelic folk, or feel the rush of 64 simultaneous Lionel Messi! Messi! Messi! goals. All of this and so much more is at our fingertips. If YouTube is the library of our modern digital civilization, and the supercut is an encyclopedia, defining a word or concept by cutting together a multitude of references, then the superfuse is the futurist painting hanging on the wall next to the shelves. It is meant to be felt, not read.