GIFs Galore

Today I spent a chunk of the afternoon making GIFs at the ASU School of Art Festival. I really made about 31 GIFs ranging in size from 5 frames to early 20. All in all it was a great event, made even more fun by the act of making something fun and silly in the process. It’s amazing to me how fun it is to make really simple and silly animation. 

In the past year GIFs have become the it thing on the web. This is made even more surprising by the growing number of GIF artists whose work is showing up in galleries and curated shows. The Graphics Interchange Format was first introduced by CompuServe in 1987. Limited to the expression fo 256 distinct colors, the GIF was never a format that was destined for the replication and display of photos. It did, however, prove to be a strong format for line and logo art with a low color demand. The GIF’s real claim to fame, however, was it’s ability to display animation. In the early days of the popular web, GIF animation was often used to create motion on a page. A single GIF could be used to create a boarder of moving and twinkling lights, or create some stellar animation of a spinning globe. In the early days of the HTML coding boom, countless tweens and teens were obsessed with GIF decoration on their anglefire websites. The limelight ultimately faded on the GIF as It’s limitations in the display of color were trumped by the internet’s new darling, Flash animation. While Flash provided for a much richer animation environment,  it began to loose its footing when Apple refused to support Flash on its mobile iOS devices. 

In a world of mobile browsing, bandwidth and compatibility became increasingly important for the spread of memes and mediated ideas. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the GIF, a 1980s standard past licensing quarrels and patent warfare, has taken center stage again.
Here’s to you GIF… your hypnotic looping never ceases to entertain.





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