Skip to content

GIFs as digital art

Whilst preparations are well underway for NEoN’s 2015 festival, we’ve been reminiscing about our previous festivals. If you attended NEoN 2014, you may have went to Click Click Clickan evening which surveyed contemporary digital moving images practices that span GIFs, augmented performances, green screen keying and more. This has got us thinking about GIFs as pieces of art and whether or not people should appreciate them more.

Gifs or “Graphics interchange formats” are a perfect example of modern technology being used to express oneself particularly on social networking sites such as Tumblr, Twitter and communication platforms such as iMessage.

Surprisingly, this month marks the 28th birthday of the GIF, first created in June 1987 by Steve Wilhite of CompuServe, now commonly known as AOL.

Since the birth of the GIF, creative minds have used moving images as a form of expressing their work in the modern digital landscape. A good example of an individual who has used GIFs in their work is Jaime Martinez, a Mexican photographer who takes his own images and transforms them in to high definition GIFs. Martinez has worked with a variety of organisations such as Sony, Versus Versace, Interscope, Dazed Digital, and has also caught the eye of M.I.A which led to a portfolio of work featuring the English electronic hip-hop singer.

© Jaime Matinez

Does this mean that GIFs are art? Opinions may be mixed but not every GIF will be seen as art – we’re talking about the banana dancing, pug-jumping-upstairs type GIFs that many people may be familiar with.

Whatever your thoughts, GIFs can be art. GIFs can incorporate a series of images or video clips which showcase subjects such as animation designs, high fashion style photoshoots, wildlife images or pop culture expressions.

In today’s world, digital art is becoming increasingly popular and GIFs allow us to express ourselves regardless of whether an individual considers them to be a work of art or not.
In the future, GIFs could become incorporated in museum exhibitions however they need to be appreciated more by viewers in order for that to happen and events/festivals such as NEoN are encouraging attendees to embrace and appreciate the work that goes in to producing digital art.

Keep an eye out for announcements on NEoN 2015’s programme and in the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about GIF art, you can check out the Artists tab on Giphy to become engulfed in thousands of exceptional GIFs produced by digital artists.