Born in 1987: The Animated GIF

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Part of our extended programme includes a new digital display named The Wall, an exhibition space for screen media. The Wall consists of a 2.7 x 3m Sharp video wall, situated on the ground floor and visible to everyone visiting the building and those passing by on the street.

A graphic saying born in 1987, the animated GIF, overlaid on top of a layer of white and grey squares

Born in 1987: The Animated GIF

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Part of our extended programme includes a new digital display named The Wall, an exhibition space for screen media. The Wall consists of a 2.7 x 3m Sharp video wall, situated on the ground floor and visible to everyone visiting the building and those passing by on the street.

This event is part of our Past Programme

The Wall forms part of a research programme which aims to explore issues concerning the digital image, its dissemination and display on-screen. The Wall's programme will include experimental commissions, collaborations and participation.

For the opening show, The Wall will address a unique form of image which is best experienced via a screen: the animated gif. The GIF is an image file format created in 1987 by CompuServe as a portable, low bandwidth image file easily rendered by a web browser. Restricted to only 256 colours, and able to store multiple frames in a single image, the GIF brought animated movement to the static webpages of the 1990s in an era before YouTube and Flash.

Although there is a long history of creative experimentation with the GIF, there has been a renewed interest in its form due to activity on sites such as Tumblr, dump.fm, 4chan and ffffound. An array of apps for smartphones, such as giffer, gif shop, gif boom, cinemagram, gif me!, have also made it even easier to casually create and disseminate home-spun designs.

For this show we asked a range of photographers, writers and other practitioners, many of whom had never created a GIF, for their responses to the form. From the graphic to the photographic, the subtle to the psychedelic, the invited contributions reflect a diversity of approaches to the GIF, and make reference to the history of these animated images online.

To open up the conversation, we are inviting contributions so please submit your GIFs to the exhibition microsite. An edited selection will be shown on The Wall during the final weeks of the show.

Sponsored by Lavazza
Technology Partner: Sharp
Programme Partner: Esmée Fairbairn