However you pronounce them, GIFs are iconic pieces of internet history. But they also form a significant part of our social history in a highly technological age. Jenny Brewer spoke to artists and experts about GIFs from the past, in the present, and their future:
Both for the Gif artists and the people using those artworks in their everyday conversations, it is Gifs’ relatable, expressive quality that makes them so captivating – ”like a higher dimension emoji!” Erma [Fiend] quips, an isolated narrative that can “capture a mood and communicate it so simply”. And while Gifs as we know them continue to be universally adopted as a vital tool of modern communication and storytelling, those at the forefront of Gifdom are looking to broaden the medium further. Giphy has recently introduced sound effects and music to some of its Gifs, and continues to work with a widening range of artists to diversify the genre. Erma is looking for ways to bring Gifs into the physical world, through flipbooks and lenticular prints, or children’s ebooks, with a dream to use Gifs as educational tools for kids. Meanwhile other creators are experimenting with how to make Gifs more interactive and responsive in digital design. One thing’s for sure, if the history of the Gif is anything to go by, the future of the format is exciting and full of untapped creative potential.
More on internet imagery: it’s pronounced GIF, Internet Archaeology: a gallery of early internet images, and the internet art of Mazaccio & Drowilal