The Year in Gifs
Dec 21 2012
This past year was, and can still be heavily defined by, a full-fledged renaissance of the Graphic Interchange Format, or the .gif, the 25-year-old image format that was recorded in November as a verb by the American Oxford Dictionary, beating out "YOLO" for word of the year. From masses of tumblrs looping favorite movie moments to unsanctioned advertisements by big brands the .gif caught on big time amending our visual lexicon and ensnaring a myriad of moments otherwise forgettable and slight into timeless loops.
The first moving image format online, it predated YouTube by decades, allowing the Internet Explorer icon to dance and giving flair to the bottom of endless Geocities pages. But it was also ahead of its time. The .gif stagnated for a while, performing some pretty mundane tasks like informing people that a site was UNDER CONSTRUCTION. For a time, its 256 colors collected dust and dithered away.
But it's now hit its stride again, and for many, the modern internet experience would be lost without it. The latent humor in a .gif, simplistic repetition, lends itself to an endless stream of memes across the web; sites such as for.gifs.com, .gifSoup, .gifbin and .gif.tv are major repositories. The .gif is sometimes revered as high art by online communities of motion graphic artists. A decade after people like Paper Rad sang the .gif into a neon rennassiance, .gifLords, David Ope, Mr Div, and Nicholas Sassoon have transformed the format into a kind of net high art. Then there's the debate over how to pronunce the word (I say .gif, with a hard g, not jif—that's a peanut butter).
In doing a simple inventory on my little MacBook Air—which is overwhelmed by an eternally open copy of my standard .gif suite: Photoshop, and Screen Record Pro-Lite—I've found some 400+ .gifs that I've made since October 23, the last time I hucked everything onto an external drive. Yes, this habit has taken over my life. I used to spend time making substantial art objects in physical dimensions. But I've truly fallen in love with the craft of the .gif, the sport of the .gif, and the frustration of the .gif; with .gifs that are too big, .gifs that are too small, .gifs without enough color, and .gifs that could never be.
My mind is inundated by a psychedelic inner voice that whispers giddily, "Hey—make a .gif of that." So I do. Now I'm going through my archive to reflect back on 2012: the regular news, the weird news, the merely weird. Here they are—little windows into 2012, endless looping hallucinations that will play on repeat until the world actually ends.
January 13th—Costa Concordia Capsizes at Isola del Giglio.