Exhibition GIF and Cities presents a selection of works by visual artists, architects and collectives that use this format for presentation and documentation of their practice or as an art medium. This is one of exhibitions within long-term curatorial project GIF: Visual Practice as Critique that focuses on positioning animated GIF in theory and history of art, architecture, museology and media. The exhibition is thematically oriented towards GIFs that deal with spatial issues and politics, social housing, history and theory of architecture. Its goal is to preserve the contexts of the selected GIFs’ origins and, therefore, their meanings.
Animated GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) is widely popular type of visual communication after de-territorialisation, when boundaries of time and space have been deleted/ exceeded. Its shortness, small size, blitz-like appearance, ephemeral character and endless repetitiveness make it suitable for presentation of changes, especially those that are result of economic and socio-political transitions. For this reason, a growing number of visual artists are turning to this digital format that is generally trivialised and used for entertainment.
Precursors of animated GIF can be seen in proto-cinematic devices and in works based on optical illusions, such as those by artists Escher and Vasarely. In contrast to similar media – time-lapse photograph and stop-motion film – animated GIF has no status of a documentary media since it allows montage and manipulation to a greater extent. During conception of this graphic format there wasn’t a tendency to make it for the exterior, real world. As it appeared at the same time when World Wide Web and Internet, cyber space is animated GIF’s natural environment within which it can become viral and easily lose authorship, original context and quality. However, this capacity to make a compressed visual material widely available, as well attractiveness of a moving image which it allows, resulted in animated GIF to become a frequent segment of online presentations. Since it is suitable for documentation of an object from different angles and the process of its construction, animated GIF is also becoming used by architects.