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, there’s an added bonus. When 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.
A big news day for GIFs: Image-hosting site Imgur has released a video-to-GIF tool, and the GIF search engine Giphy announced raising $17 million in new funding. What do these two tech stories have in common? GIFs are being touted as the next wave in mobile-media consumption. Today, GIFs officially go corporate.
In 2008, Laurel Ptak, founder of the blog iheartphotograph, curated 67 artist-made GIFs for Graphics Interchange Format, an exhibition at Brooklyn’s Bond Street Gallery. The gallery no longer exists and neither does the website that formerly hosted those GIFs. As Paddy noted in her “A Brief History of Animated GIF Art” series on artnet News, the lack of an online archive poses a problem for piecing together the format’s history.
Though we can’t poof the Graphics Interchange Format site back into existence, we can do what we’re good at: googling. All week we’re going to search the web for GIFs that were in the exhibition. For historians, artists, and consumers of net art, this GIFt’s for you.
Laurel Ptak’s Graphics Interchange Format had 26 artists make 67 GIFs. Our online hunting for those GIFs has resulted in fewer than a quarter of what would’ve originally been on view. It’s not just those GIFs that are rare on the net; some artists seem to have disappeared from the public web, too. (Although, to be fair, some have gone on to become more well-known: Alex Prager, Talia Chetrit, and Petra Cortright among them.)
For those GIFs we could not find, which were deleted long ago, we bid you farewell. We did not know you well, and likely never will.
Below, we give you the rest of the GIFs we were able to round up. And of course, if you have any tips on where to find the rest of the works from Graphics Interchange Format, we’re listening. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Top two GIFs: Anne de Vries, Jason Fulford.)
Left to my own devices, I’d probably always seek out the most ornate complicated GIFs I could find. It’s my taste. But after having spent most of the day writing up a soul crushing shopping guide for the rich, (I may never be rid of my anti-corporate teenage angst) Tom Moody’s modest set of GIFs serves as a well-needed palette cleanser. The mini-band above has all of zero relationship to art market, and can be evaluated for what they are; short animated loops of squirrels playing music. One plays an electric guitar, the other a banjo, with what appears to be the back of a player piano and a sheet holder in between the two. Banjo squirrel not withstanding, the movement of each GIF has been sped up or exaggerated in some, creating a bizarre caricature of the action. It’s cute, and perhaps a little naive, in exactly the right way.
“See money raining down on me” from http://imgarcade.com
“GIF of the Day” fans, artists, readers: a gift to you. Giphy is holding a $10,000 contest to make a digital sticker. The sticker doesn’t even have to be animated, and it can just be something you made that’s lying around from years past. By sticker, I’m pretty sure they just mean an animated GIF or a picture. It will not stick to things. This is likely the largest sum of money any individual will stand to make off a GIF in 2014.