Whether you love them, hate them, or think they induce seizures, there’s no doubting that GIFs are here to stay. Shorthand for Graphics Interchange Format, the GIF is a bitmap image format first introduced by CompuServe in 1987, which causes a series of static images to combine, creating a quick stop-motion-esque animation sequence. Though its popularity has been accredited to its portability, it has for the most part been co-opted by the internet community to create quick viral images and sight gags, also known as memes. For those who live and breathe the internet, this is all basic information. However, if you work in the art world, the word GIF can sound more like an Onomonopia than a legitimate art form.
That is all about to change with the newest collaboration between online art platform Paddle8 and internet trailblazers Tumblr. Through this digital marriage, traditional static art gets turned on its head with the first ever large-scale, open call for original animated GIFs to be curated by the Paddle8 team. Currently online, the show will feature GIFs sent in by aspiring artists, and showcased to some of the world’s leading creators, both online and during Miami Art Week 2012.
Titled Moving the Still this festival for all things GIF-art will be generated through an open call currently on Paddle8′s website. Submissions are open and will be published on a rolling bases from October 17th through November 7th, culminating in a live exhibition during Miami Art Week 2012.
While the GIF has taken its fair share of abuse, often called “internet refuse” or simple “irritating,” those at Paddle8 see it as an ongoing expression of creativity, and one that should be elevated to the level of other art forms.
From Chief Council, Johnny Misheff, 2012:
The GIF is one of the most recognized and well-loved forms of digital media in use today. We’re celebrating it’s 25th birthday this year. Some of you will remember those early iterations that popped up onto the interwebs… all the clip art, like the waving American flag; those Under Construction banners in heavy use during the 90s; the dancing baby in diapers; that crazed dancing woman… Everyone currently using the internet has seen a GIF. The last few years have seen the GIF rise to a level of prominence of epic proportions. Artists have taken to the medium with an incredible fervor…The Net Generation has taken to the GIF in myriad ways, from fan art to the revolutionary meme. Perhaps more than any other medium, the GIF embraces a diversity inherent in its simple function.
When asked why they chose now to launch this project, Misheff responded:
The time for officially celebrating the GIF is long overdue and we are thrilled to celebrate it in this unique and totally groundbreaking way. When we began the process of outreach to prospective Council Members for their involvement in the project, the responses were overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Our Council and Contributors have gone above and beyond what we could have imagined, both with in advising on the show conceptually and with their own work which created the foundation for the final, larger exhibition which we will physically present via projections in Miami during this upcoming Miami Art Week 2012.
What is perhaps the most exciting element of all is the open call submission process via Tumblr’s dedicated community and beyond, for here we anticipate with great excitement contributions from some of the strongest, most prolific producers of GIFs in the world. To show these previously unseen gems from the far reaches of the internet alongside the works of some of the world’s most revered cultural ambassadors is truly a great moment.
One of the most interesting parts of this project of the illustrious list of Council Members tapped from various mediums to help judge the GIFS, which include musician Michael Stipe, ultra-modern artist Ryan Trecartin, design team Rodarte, James Frey, RoseLee Goldberg, painter Richard Phillips, stylist to Lady Gaga and Thierry Mugler Creative Director Nicola Formichetti, and Inez & Vinoodh.
For those hoping to catch the winner, the top animated GIFs in each category will be announced on November 26th and presented at a major exhibition event in the Wynwood District of Miami during the Art Basel Fair this coming December.