GIF’s “Graphics Interchange Format” have been circulating digitally since Steve Wilhite of Compuserve debuted the GIF in June 1987. GIF’s improved on black and white image transfers with 256 colour, while still retaining a compressed format that slow modems could easily load. Animation is achieved by adding time delays to frames.
My first memory of a GIF was the dancing banana which was original created for Buckwheat Boyz’s song “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”. From what I can remember, early GIFs usually had a fun element to them. I feel this element has now been exaggerated to where GIFs have become the default brand of web humour, which is accompanied with impact-font memes and viral YouTube videos.
However, for all the entertainment GIFs have provided us, like forever looping hilarious moments such as Madonna being pulled off stage at the 2015 Brit Awards. In recent years there has been a resurgence due to the many GIF friendly platforms, like Tumblr, that are available.
Graphic artist and photographer Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, respectively, believe the web has returned to GIFs in a desire for speed. “We like things fast. If you have something to say or want to make someone laugh, it’s more effective to give them the immediacy of a GIF than send a link and ask them to watch a video, which they may or may not do. GIFs eliminate variables that aren’t important to the core message.”
It is the limitations of GIFs that has provided inspiration to artist. Various styles and techniques have been applied such as;
Cinemagraphs. Which fall somewhere between a still image and a lively GIF. By isolating and freezing large portions of the image file, they can select very specific areas to animate.
It is styles such as this, that has helped to create the ‘GIF movement’ we have today. Below are a selection of my favourite GIFs. As well as my attempt at one.