'Tis the Season for GIF-ing


Friday, December 07, 2012

Art Basel Miami Beach, the country’s buzziest art fair, is in full swing. Dozens of satellite events and temporary galleries have popped up during the fair, including “Moving the Still,” an exhibition made up entirely of GIFs.

GIFs are tiny animations made from looping together a few still images — like a digital flipbook. They’ve become so popular the Oxford English Dictionary named GIF the word of the year. Tumblr, the blogging site where so many GIFs get their start and go viral, organized “Moving the Still” along with the online auction house Paddle8.

Johnny Misheff, one of the show’s curators, wanted “Moving the Still” to bring together two distinct cultures: the purveyors of snarky pop culture GIFs and contemporary artists who are just beginning to experiment with the form. It includes one of this year’s most popular GIFs, “Sassy Obama,” created by Krutika Mallikarjuna and Chris Ritter for Buzzfeed. They attached a photo of the president’s head to a hand-drawn animation of a swaying female body in a leotard and high-heels — an homage to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video. The GIF premiered on election night. “There’s something about the movement and smile that says, ‘hey yeah, I did it, back off,’” observes art critic Carolina Miranda.

But Philadelphia artist Alex Da Corte had never made a GIF before Misheff’s invitation, and what’s more, he spends almost no time on the internet: “I just get so bored, I’m like, ‘I don’t know what to do on here.” Miranda says his GIFs call to mind work by video artist Bruce Nauman.

Alex da Corte’s hand series


Alex da Corte’s hand series


Alex da Corte’s hand seriesGIFs by Alex Da Corte

Miranda is happy to see digital art getting some show at the very commercial Art Basel Miami. The fair is a destination for artists, critics, and curators to see what’s happening in the art world, “and the GIF,” she says, “is what’s happening.”

Joe Kay's blinking Cindy Sherman GIFGIF by Joe Kay
    Music Playlist
  1. Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)
    Artist: Beyonce
    Album: I Am...Sasha Fierce
    Label: Music World Music/Columbia
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Hooked On a Feeling
    Artist: Blue Swede
    Album: Hooked On a Feeling
    Label: Capitol
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Artists Only
    Artist: Talking Heads
    Album: More Songs About Buildings and Food
    Label: Sire/Warner Bros.
    Purchase: Amazon


Alicia Zuckerman

Comments [4]


Thanks for your reply. Very cool link (the first one)! Merriam-Webster is wrong. Sad, but true. In this case I think it's more like tangerine/tangerine. The inventor of the word & file format was very specific about everything--including the pronunciation. The patent on the file format only recently expired, but there has yet to be a replacement.

I would liked for the story to have mentioned the limitations of the format. A limit of 256 colors being the main drawback.

thanks again, and I love the program.

Dec. 19 2012 03:49 AM
Jenny from Studio 360

Hi blaise --

The jury seems to be split on the proper way to pronounce GIF. You're right, it was originally pronounced with a "J" sound (http://wny.cc/SZ4Pp4). But now both ways are accepted (according to Merriam-Webster: http://wny.cc/SZ4Pp9). Indeed, the people in our story pronounced it both ways.


Thanks for your comment.

Dec. 11 2012 12:02 PM

spread [of] the GIF [mis]pronunciation
The pronunciation is JIF as in "choosey moms choose GIF". I find it incredible all these guests mispronounce it. The creator of the GIF used the above quote as a guide to pronouncing the file type!

Dec. 08 2012 02:24 PM
clive betters

that's just wrong...!

Dec. 07 2012 09:38 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.