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: 
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."
no one owns language.
and what a gloriously, gloriously limited way it is.
gifs are now a medium, and their portability and accessibility
to anyone allows for endless remixing and reinterpretation
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.
(dramatization of gifs from the 90s)
supa hot fire original
supa hot fire original
supa hot fire original
Looped
obama'd
obama'd

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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.

sports editors like @dshep25
have taken this technique
even further, taking 
advantage of controlled
camera angles to collapse
and collage many similar
shots into a single gif, like
this one of lebron james.
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.
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.
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.
the work of nicolas fong explores this dense looping to a ridiculous 
extreme, creating hyperintricate animations that evoke the 
phenakistoscopes of the 1800s.
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 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 >>>>>>>>>

This side margin ENDS UP BEING 
a useful spot to cite my sources.
there are a lot of gifs here and
where authors are known, they are
linked to here. attribution is sexy.

Title gif graciously made for this
by ANIMATEDTEXT.tumblr.com
All gifs here made on gifpop.

from left to right, TOP ROW:
unmaru.com
traceloops.tumblr.com
JEnn de la Vega, supjdlv.com

BOTTOM ROW:
Samcannon.tumblr.com
joewinograd.tumblr.com
via internet.
GIF 89-a specification.
remixes of the infamous
supa hot fire vs b-bone 
rap battle parody video.
via internet.
hacking more than 256 colors into 
and animated gif, via wikipedia.
dvdp.tumblr.com

89a.co.uk
cinemagraphs.com
Lebron's Game 7, in one Gif
nicolas Fong

Phenakistoscopes
Taylor Swift has tumblr problems

The redditor Editingandlayout's
ostentations gifs
Newhive by mollysoda
ryan gosling won't eat his cereal by
ryan mchenry

Ryan gosling eating his cereal
in honor of Ryan mchenry
16x16.tumblr.com
see also: trying to save a gif on
twitter

The Poetic equation of the message
has reached the end of its metaphor
by francoise gamma
Sources above ^_^