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robertogreco : webart   1

DIGITAL-MATERIALITY-OF-GIFS
HI, my name is Sha.

I love gifs.

Some of my best friends are gifs. One of my sideprojects is GifPop, a site where people upload gifs to print animated cards.

But that's a longer story.

What I do want to talk about is animated gifs as a design material.

But first off, a quick reminder: no one owns language.

People argue about gif or jif, but it doesn't matter. No one owns language, and even if anyone did no one is a jraphic designer or jraffiti artist.

What i love about gifs are their history and their materiality.

First specified in 1987, the creators later stated in their 1989 revision that "the graphics interchange format is not intended as a platform for animation, even though it can be done in a limited way."

And what a gloriously, gloriously limited way it is.

Animated gifs, whether you are hypnotized by them or nauseated by them, have become a visual language unto themselves, an emotive vocabulary made out of culture.

Gifs are now a medium, and their portability and accessibility to anyone allows for endless remixing and reinterpretation.

Gifs weren't always this way.

We all remember the various under construction or dancing baby gifs from the 90s, and all the bedazzled backgrounds on myspace pages.

The gif spec limits color palettes to 256 colors, and must store the pixels that have changed for every frame of animation.

This makes them very inefficient for rendering or storing entire movies, but has made them nicely equipped to capture the most delicate of moments.

Because gifs can specify an infinite loop, they both break time and increase legibility, creating the beauty we call a reaction gif.

But gifs aren't just about cutting up bits of media.

The inefficiency of the file format and the upload limits of the social networks themselves have created a whole ecosystem of experimentation and juggling around constraints.

In Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg's work, they realized that by isolating movement they could make gifs at a much higher quality than most, and still fit Tumblr's strict upload requirements, creating the style they call cinemagraphs.

Sports editors like @dshep25 have taken this technique even further, taking advantage of controlled camera angels to collapse and collage many similar shots into a single gif, like this one of Lebron James.

Artists of course are leading this exploration.

The work of dvdp and 89-a both explore extremely limited color palettes while using tight loops and large swaths of black to reduce file size.

The work of Nicolas Fong explores this dense looping to a ridiculous extreme, creating hyperintricate animations that evoke the phenakistoscopes of the 1800s.

And we even see the seams of the network in the content that's posted.

On Tumblr, where upload limits are small but multiple side-by-side gifs are permitted, people collage snippets of dialogue together.

On Imgur, the preferred uploader for redditors, upload limits are much higher, enough for entire scenes to be remixed.

Here on Newhive, artists like molly soda take advantage of the support for transparency and collaging to make pieces like this, displaying messages from her Okcupid inbox.

Content like this just explodes, and with attention comes money.

Newer networks like Vine have popped up, creating their own medium of looping video.

These days for every Vine THERE are a dozen competing looping apps trying to capitalize on this meme economy.

But while these advances are exciting, the mainstreaming of gifs is not without its losses.

Tumblr now has a minimum resolution size.

Imgur is now promoting its own videogif format.

Facebook and Twitter have started converting gifs to video by default.

While individually these decisions to decrease file sizes or stop gifs from autoplaying make sense, this desire to optimize as well as commercialize gifs ends up siloing these animations from each other, removing the portability and ease of remixing that makes gifs exciting at all.

Gifs are a dumb, limited file format, and in the end this is why they are important:

They do not belong to anyone.

Because of their constraints they become a design material, to be played with, challenged, and explored. to try and domesticate them would be missing the point.

This was written BY SHA HWANG For a Pecha Kucha talk in Brooklyn and made into a remixable newhive. The ideas are from the internet.

Thank you to animatedtext for creating the amazing title gif. more detailed sources are INLINE ON THE PAGE to the right >>>>>>>>>

[Also at this URL: http://newhive.com/shashashasha/digital-materiality-of-gifs ]
shahwang  gifs  animatedgifs  internet  web  facebook  vine  twitter  fileformats  constraints  art  webart  tumblr  memes  remixing  portability  video  animation  emotions  imgur  okcupid  redit  newhive  phenakistoscopes  dvdp  89-a  @dshep25  cinemagraphs  jamiebeck  kevinburg  history  media  legibility  resolution  reactiongifs  accessibility  1987  1989  gifpop  culture  remixculture  multiliteracies 
january 2016 by robertogreco

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