Romancing the .GIF: a Two Phase Project

A two phase project exploring how animated gifs have become the evolved medium in visual language and culture off and online.
Submitted by

Project Location

Brooklyn New York United States of America
Artists Involved

Project Description

For the first time in recorded history, our visual language has reached a critical mutative point in which humans, as storytellers, commentators, sharers, artists and non-artistic persons alike can communicate through images to the largest global audience our culture has ever known - the Internet. The most portable and supported form of this visual communication is through the Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF. The emerging use of animated gifs allows users to illustrate an idea or emotion illustrating an evolved form of communication. Much like a photograph or painting, we have embraced GIFs "as these suspended moments in time", but unlike some of their non-sequential predecessors, GIFS further explore these moments through "looping only the information necessary to conjure a particular emotion or memory" as Joshua Kopstein writes in his essay The GIF That Keeps On GIFing: Why Animated Images Are Still A Defining Part Of Our Internets". As I propose, the GIF can be linearly traced back through it's evolution from the beginning of sequential communication and further explored as physical representations that illustrate the evolution our culture has advanced visual language on and offline.
Part of the proposal is a timeline research tool to holistically inform visitors and myself about visual language and mediology evolution focused on online interactions. As an emerging technology piece, the timeline would explore multiple forms of multimedia that would act as an instrument in which users can interact with - demonstrating how we've reached to our current state of visual language and how it's evolved off+online. The further the piece is utilized and explored, information would be gathered and shown further demonstrating the breadth of variety and history our visual language has developed; linking the common thread through cultural and art history, users will be able to investigate the links of these images and make connections on their own inspiring them with an intrinsic knowledge that hasn't been revealed in an online format.
Researching and exploring this medium would focus primarily on aspects of sequential communication and expression through history, including artworks such as the cave paintings of Lascaux, the painting Perseus Rescues Andromeda by Piero di Cosimo,  Lumiere Brothers' Arrival of a Train as a landmark story told in film, the lenticular photography of Eadweard Muybridge, comic book art and graphic storytelling, animated neon signage displays and artworks (ie Bruce Nauman), and video game sprites to name a few examples of this language of a sequential message. 
After the research and development phase, the installation of window.gif(s) would involve the re-appropriation and evolved forms of gifs to create physical interpretations. Creating these tangible works to be present for, approached to and interpreted by a wide/physical audience bringing value as works of art allowing there to be context and meaning on and offline - further exploring the visual language of gifs and their portability in our culture. The final phase explores the ongoing development and evolution of our visual language and exemplifying new media artworks further interconnecting these practices in our history. For this exhibit, the manifestations would be put on public view as a final exploration of our current visual language, linking on and offline experience and understanding.
Project Timeline and Budget

Phases work in conjunction with one another to illustrate the evolution and development. 
Phase I:
Research and development of timeline • Months 1-4
Programming and design • Months 5-8
Ongoing archival and growth of timeline • Months 8-12
Phase II:
Development of compisitions created for physical gifs • Months 5,6
Printing and manual production • Months 7-9
Display and exhibition • Month 11-12
Total Estimated Budget:
Phase I • Programming, online hosting and development ~ $2,000
Phase II • Creation (printing and production) and shipping, gallery costs and expenses ~ $2,500 - $3,000
About the Artist(s) Involved

Daniel Leyva graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2008
BFA in Broadcast Design, Minor in Film and Television
Current projects:
• shellology part of the R-U-IN?S network. Description of shellolgy on the site: "Investigates the metamorphoses and devolution of bootleg, 3rd Party and modified game hardware. Displaying a residual presentation of core developing game systems and parts, SHELLOLOGY hopes to study the techniques and methodology supply chains offer consumers, evoking a ghost of nostalgia and desire to acquire the best in gaming technology via their product." 
Tempelhof Broadcast animation, in conjunction with composer Lisa Biewala. This animation is part of a proposal for a performance to be held in Tempelhof Berlin, Germany in 2012 that Lisa will conduct with 200+ musicians creating an experimental, interactive and participatory new media performance.
Group Exhibitions:
2011 READ/WRITE. 319 Scholes. Brooklyn, NY.
2010 Troll. Envoy Enterprises. New York, NY.
2010 JstChillin., Online.
2009 Guest Galleries. Internet Archaeology., Online.
2009 Invisible Cities., Online.
2008 so much clarity on a sunny day. Video Exhibition. Savannah, GA.
Artist(s) Work Samples

Geocity2000, 2009 -
Part of Internet Archaeology Guest galleries online exhibit ~ "Geocity2000" serves as a metaphorical representation of the demise of geocities sites in the form of an isometric map littered with 404 errors and missing image links, further exemplyfing the the decay and degradation of Internet obsolescence in the future of wasteland and space.
Chill Space, 2010 -
An online "quiz" examines user interactivity and clicking-for-clicking-sake that generates a random "chill" room that is then submitted to a gallery of previous user results. The randomization of "junk" gifs is determined by how much the user clicks and manipulates the input fields (the more you click the more unnecessary objects fill your room), but unbeknownst to the user the results are predetermined in their fields; observing the user experience online and interface operations that play a large role of how we preceive data collection and results. The piece was part of the jstchillin online exhibit.
FAKE+GAY, 2010 -
Trolling users online since 1997. This looped video serves as a p2p troll viewing experience in a gallery setting that is meant to aggravate and cajole viewers to walk away from the screen, a lesson well taught for the trollrs found online.
window.gif, 2011 - (main proposal image)
The first in the proposed series of representational physical gifs that illustrate zen-like looped movement inside net terrain. The piece served as extension of the "Chill Space" online work from jstchillin, that manifests the rooms' space to the physical world in 319 Scholes gallery. window.gif analyzes the outsourcing and mass production of modern kitsch much like gifs have done so in forums and curatorial blogs (on platforms such as Tumblr and This piece was included in the READ/WRITE show curated by Parker Ito and Caitlin Denny in March 2011.
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