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[Exclusive] Inside Scorpion Dagger's Real-Life GIF Book

Renaissance GIFs are now running wild IRL.
Images courtesy the artist

No Renaissance painting is safe from GIF artist James Kerr, a.k.a. Scorpion Dagger, who has spent the last three years cutting up images of nobles, Greek deities, and religious icons to create tickling animations about fast cars, selfies, and the trials and tribulations of modern living. In his new app-enabled augmented reality book, Do You Like Relaxing?, Kerr teams with publishing house Anteism to push the ever-crumbling boundaries between digital and IRL GIF art.


All one needs to get started is to scan a page of Kerr's book with the Junaio augmented reality app, and watch as a single frame from one of Kerr's signature GIFs comes to life on your phone or tablet screen. Kerr tells The Creators Project, "Finding new ways to share GIFs is really exciting for me. I'm really into this idea of taking GIFs off the web, and putting them in places where they wouldn't normally be found." Voila: the internet-less GIF.

"Since the book, I've been thinking a lot about how the GIF exists in a way where it's a lot more than just a simple file format. There's an entire culture behind it that's incredibly inspiring. The way people push the format's extremely tight limitations to express themselves, and the huge variety of styles represented in it, has made it, in my opinion, a vital part of web/popular culture," he says. Kerr's work has come a long way since he began publishing animation experiments on Tumblr in early 2012, and augmented reality seemed like a logical next step, both for monetization and the experience. He continues, "GIF has become a style of art, and I think the book sort of helps legitimize that idea. Maybe?"

Do You Like Relaxing? itself contains a whole host of GIFs updated from the Tumblr-limited versions seen on Kerr's blog, and a few complete originals that you'll only find between its white-and-gold snakeskin bindings. With a preface by Hyperallergic co-founder and editor-in-chief Hrag Vartanian, and Biblically-themed sections (think "Carnal Sinners" and "Gluttons") marked with poems and Kerr's own brain wanderings, paging through the book is an entirely different experience than passively letting the Scorpion Dagger Tumblr feed wash over you.


On top of that, the new medium opens the physical book to growth as time goes on. "I'm really into the idea that people can go back to the book in the future, and have different experiences with it," Kerr says. In the same way a website updates itself to reflect new ideas and technology, so too will he be able to change his book whenever he wants. Like the Constitution and the Bible before it, Do You Like Relaxing? is a very-much living, breathing document.

Check out more GIFs from the book below:

When he announced Do You Like Relaxing? last year, Kerr walked us through his creative process (including his extensive collection of cut-out legs), and before that we collected 10 favorites from his catalogue.

See more of his work on his Tumblr, and buy the book for yourself—$25 for the softcover and $73 for the special edition, signed hardcover, which comes with a lenticular print—on Anteism's website.


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