GIF It!, a Paris-based exhibition set to open on June 11 might be the most fundamentally flawed GIF exhibition of all time. A look at some of the exhibition’s misguided assumptions:
1. GIFs are dead.
The press release for GIF It! calls it “the first living GIF exhibition,” which really just means that GIFs have been turned into lenticulars. As GIF It! tells it, GIFs’ legitimacy is earned only once they become “alive” objects, thus suggesting by omission that on the screen GIFs are dead.
2. GIFs are magic.
More from the press release: “Animations are triggered when moving around via optical illusion. Magic!”
It’s not magic—it’s a combination of forces, like frame rates, software, history, memes, and, lest we not forget, the brain of an artist. “Magic” just reduces these GIFs to nothing more than a cool, fly-by-night gimmick—like a magic eye poster.
3. GIFs are for boys.
Unsurprisingly, none of the eight exhibiting artists are women.
4. GIFs are not art.
Until you put them inside a physical frame. Again, from the press release: “GIF IT! pulls Gifs out of screens and raise them as works of art.” This has never been a serious argument—it’s like saying video art is not art until you put it inside a frame, or that a poodle is not a poodle until you shave off its fur into dainty poofs.
5. GIFs use too much energy.
No comment on this part of the press release: “It is time to propose a new art, appreciable off-screens without the need for a source of energy.”
If all that makes you want to rush out to the opening, if you donate $6 or more to the exhibition’s online fundraiser, you will receive one free drink at the opening, held at a hybrid coffee shop/wine bar/clothing store.