Geraldine Juarez, Magnus Eriksson

GIF and the City — Why be a star, when you can be a GIF?

The GIF file format creates a short loop from a sequence of images that can be embedded in websites. The format originates from the early days of the web where video was out of the question and saving file size and bandwidth was paramount. In recent years, the GIF has seen a resurgence of popularity together with a retro memes trend that turns its focus back to the early, innocent and playful web before the emergence of commercial social media and high definition pro content. This can for example be seen in the FAT project “Occupy the Internet”. The popularity of GIFs shows that personal and creative expressions thrive in the limitations of low quality images and a simple 3 frame animation looping forever.

GIF and the City is a hybrid analog/digital social sculpture that consists of a green screen photo booth, an intermediary script turning the users performance into a GIF animation, and outputs in the form of a projection and a script for websites.

A participant gets their movements turned into a looping GIF animation that is projected for the duration of the festival on a facade together with all other previous participants GIFs. The display creates a moving and evolving snapshot of visitors in the area and their personal expressions, celebrating vibrant city life and the power of communities, crowds and networks in a more personal and human way that the usual mappings of social networks and flows of the city. A script is also prepared that allows anyone to display the same crowd of GIFs on any website as well as take their favorite GIFs with them.