Digital Project
19 May - 10 Jul 2012

Born in 1987: The Animated GIF

On the Media Wall

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.

© Alexa Wright

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,, 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.

© Kim Asendorf

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.

Participating artists:

Marie-Josiane Agossou
Kim Asendorf
Michele Barker and Anna Munster
David Bate
Nicolas Boillot
Laura Brothers
Susan Collins
Andrew Dewdney
Jessica Eaton
Nooshin Farhid
Paul Flannery
Emilio Gomariz
Dryden Goodwin
Sean Hillen
Roshini Kempadoo
Olia Lialina
Rollin Leonard
Eileen Little
Victoria Blitz via Mute Magazine
Ohio Magazine
Jaime Martinez
Simone Massera
Sally McKay
Wendy McMurdo
Marcel Meyer
Lorna Mills
Kennard Phillips
Colin Raff
Ryder Ripps
Paula Roush
Andreas Schmidt
Rick Silva
Yoshi Sodeoka
Phillip Stearns
Eva Stenram
Katja Stuke
Spirit Surfers
David Szakaly
Jordan Tate
Penelope Umbrico
Giulietta Verdon-Roe
Alexa Wright

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