Finally, there is an Award for Excellence in GIFS

How did it take so long for this to exist?

Feb 24 2015, 4:37am

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The .GIFYS are the internet's premier award for GIF excellence. It may seem strange to honor something that's rarely more than a few low-res video stills, but you'd have to be a heartless sack of garbage to not love these guys.

Now in its second year, 2015 is the first time the .GIFYS have accepted open submissions. The final winner however will be crowned by the people. Vote or keep your opinions to yourself for a whole year.

Mary Dauterman is a 27-year-old Brooklyn art director and one of award's co-founders with William Sawyer and Chelsea O'Brien. She came up with the idea after she and her cubicle friends realised there was no Oscars equivalent for small goats trying to "deal with it".

VICE: So Mary, where there are awards, there is also controversy. Have you guys had any backlash over the .GIFYS?
Mary Dauterman: Last year there were some very angry emails about a racoon being thrown down subway stairs for animal cruelty.

It was a big Reddit story about the founder of Digg saving his dog from the raccoon and without context it did look pretty violent. We emailed the story and an apology for its shocking content to all dozen or so people who were outraged. I have also gotten into weird Twitter conversations about people wanting porn to be represented because there is a really big porn subculture within the GIF world. But we wanted the .GIFYS to be SFW and safe for grandma.

Now you've opened the floor to the voting public. What do the people like?
So far there's been a lot of Twitter love for the murder Sound of Music GIF and I think one of the Obama GIFs

I noticed cats have their own section.
It seemed a wise thing to do. Putting cats in the animals category just wouldn't be fair to the other animals.

It's kind of weird to be thinking about it so logically. I've always thought of GIFs as these kitsch things that make me laugh for two seconds.
Yeah, I think the first GIF I remember seeing was one of those "under construction" Geocities GIFs or that weird dancing baby rendering. In the past few years I've been seeing really amazing animation and legit art pieces made as GIFs. It's pretty incredible. What used to be such a jokey, cheesy medium—and really just created for file compression in the late '80s—is now being used in really interesting ways. They've even been used in reporting from credible news sources.

But there's still an inherent crapness to them that's kind of hilarious.
Oh yes, it's all this hacky quick Photoshop stuff that's so hilarious. I also love all the glitch GIFs that just have people totally melting (like this and this). And then there's a lot of stuff that ends up getting so stretched and warped so the file size is small enough to post and share. I also love all the iterations of GIFs, like people keep adding more and more layers.

Have they become some sort of ironic art-form now?
I don't know if it's even ironic anymore. Is it post-ironic?

It's weird because on one spectrum there's all kinds of delightfully shitty GIFs, then there's awesome animators honing their craft and people making things that are truly artful. There has even been a GIF presence at Art Basel and the Tate had a GIF event. Tumblr had some kind of digital auction where people paid real money for digital art—presumably GIFs. It would make sense for GIFs to start being just as prevalent in galleries as art films.

There are also cinemagrams which are more like moving portraiture than GIFs. It's like some Harry Potter magic newspaper shit. Maybe other internet things are due for a comeback, like MIDI ringtones.

Some sites even have a react with GIF function in their comment sections.
That's pretty genius. I know commenters have been using GIFs to react for a while, like, "that's enough internet" for especially dark articles.

Sometimes words just don't make as much sense as GIFs. It gets interesting when people are showing condolences or sadness or genuine outrage through GIFs, when you'd really think of them as a jokey medium. I guess they have a soothing nature to them? There's a group at MIT labs that's essentially trying to create an emotional language out of GIFs and I'm curious to see what they do with it.

That is curious. What do the winners of the .GIFYS get?
There's one winner per category, then GIF Of The Year which gets the top votes overall, so 12 winners. Because many files have multiple iterations floating around the internet, we always thought it would be too difficult to award the original creator. So we decided that the .GIFYS would be awarding the GIFs themselves, immortalising the winning GIF files in a time capsule online. The exciting thing is this year many GIF creators have found us on Twitter and are proudly promoting their creations, so it's been great to see these artists step forward. Hopefully one day we'll have the resources to make them massive digital trophies, goblets, and figurines!

Follow Toby on Twitter:@jane_tobes

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