In case you don’t follow The Art Assignment yet (and you should, you really should), here is our most recent episode with Toyin Odutola. 

Currently mulling over what my own GIF is going to be. Watch the video, and then make your own and post it online using #theartassignment!


Calling you out: Meg Gilbert / megmotherwort

Meet in the Middle | Stakeout | Intimate Indispensable Gif | Never Seen Never Will | Quietest Place | Psychological Landscape | What How Where | Walk on It | Off | OffMake a Rug | Under the Influence | Imprint | Sorted Books | Find Your Band | Photo a Friend | Photo a FriendDesktop Monument | The One That Got Away | Expanded Moment | Relative Strangers | Emotional Furniture | Movement Telephone | Encounters | Assembly Line | Artistic Alchemy | Customize It


It’s Intimate, Indispensable GIF day! Here are some highlights from the many fantastic GIFs that have come in so far. 

And we’ll be featuring more on tumblr today. 

Oh, and if you haven’t seen Toyin Odutola’s Art Assignment episode, you should watch that first!

Intimate, indispensible GIF: My Grandfather died at the end of January this year. One of my fondest memories is he would take me rock hunting, he would always keep the rocks and no one really ever thought to ask why. After he passed away we found out what he was doing with them. He had made them into little statues and painted them. They were all labeled for each of the grandchildren. These are the two he made for me, with them were a note: “Don’t forget to laugh”. I keep them close and when I am missing Grandpa I will sit and talk with them. I love them.

Intimate, Indispensable GIF

I’ve had these pictures taken for months and then the photoshop I had was too outdated to be able to make gifs and then the end of my semester, but now, behold! My first gif! Done for The Art Assignment’s third assignment.

I don’t get to play my bass as much as I’d like to anymore, but it’s still absolutely indispensable to me. I love music and I love bass and I barely have any words to describe what it means to me. Following music also lead me to the path I’m on now. A path that I am incredibly excited about. When taking these pictures I wanted to be certain that they would all be from my perspective, what I see when I play.

This is my Intimate, Indispensable gif. I chose pictures from my summer at a sleep over camp as a counsellor. It’s pretty clear from the photos who was most important to me and I am so pleased that I shared a summer with them.

Finally I got this to work. Took me so long to pick these pictures and get them in gif form. Relatively pleased with how it turned out.

Thanks to The Art Assignment for giving me a reason to look back at my past summer and reminisce about the phenomenal times I had. 

3. Intimate, Indispensable GIF

I don’t think I was being terribly creative with this GIF. I’m kind of in a rut in terms of creating things at the moment. The biggest message from Toyin Odutola that sunk in was the “if I could do it, with serious laziness, you can do it” part of it. The “fun and easy” part of it. Because I’m definitely feeling lazy (and sleepy) lately.

I thought about what would be most intimate and indispensable to me, and it always comes down to a few things, including introspection, body image, and art/creation.

So, what I did here was set up my tripod (actually it’s broken so I rubber banded my camera to the mount since I have misplaced the mount… yikes) and videotaped myself. What we have here are 8 frames of gestural sketches of me moving around in my studio, and apparently trying to keep my head attached to my body. 8 frames for a typical 8 beat phrase in dance, 8 frames for the lucky number 8 in my family’s culture (I’m Chinese, thanks for wondering). 8 frames because that’s a small enough number to draw and photograph and crop and animate and upload without giving myself a headache, or a chance to be distracted and give up. 

Making small things is the first step. Hopefully it’ll be a catalyst for me to continue making things (especially since I’m running out of posts).

Art Assignment #3 Intimate, Indispensable Gif

I love reading, so I chose a few of my favorite books and put them together into a gif.

Watch on


This GIF was created for @theartassignment, and was featured on their youtube highlights reel for assignment #3. The assignment, Intimate, Indispensable GIF, was set by artist Toyin Odutola.

Intimate, Indispensable GIF:
This is my first GIF and was done as part of The Assignment Art #3. I thought about what I couldn’t do without and the idea of doing something with food came to me. How can you get more intimate and indispensable than something that literally becomes a part of you. What made me choose “spices” was that it has always set me apart from a lot of my peers; as someone who loves spicy food.

I got to thinking about of the history of these seasonings and how essential they were in shaping human experimentation. Spice is ancestral and creative. And also spices allow me to leave my imprint on an integral element of one’s survival: food.

It would have been easy to just have a slab of meat and softened veges every for the last 10,000 years. But spice changed all that to make food an experience of aromas, sensations and innovations. I love spicy food, without it food could’ve been wayyyyy boring.

[HEADPHONES WARNING. This starts very quietly and gets very loud at 22 seconds. The quiet bits will be quiet, but don’t turn it up or the peaks will deafen you]

This is my response to the latest Art Assignment. It is a very unusual take on the assignment, as those who watch The Art Assignment will have noticed.

The assignment this week was to make a GIF. Not of anything, of course, but of something intimate and indispensable to you.

The observant amongst you may have noticed that this is not a GIF. I have taken the briefing to create what is, I guess, my first ever piece of “sound art” (unless you call my compositions sound art, and that difference is a whole other topic.) This is because of a number of reasons, but as much as anything I work with sound rather than image most of the time, and I felt that this captured something more than I could express in a GIF. The focus of my submission is music, and my intimacy with it is, I think, best explored sonically.

Music is intimate to every person. It is ubiquitous, sound is everywhere in everything we do in some way or another. We all experience music and have very personal reactions to it, and to me as a composer it is entirely indispensable, something I will talk more about later. In this short sound clip, I have tried to capture something that I feel a certain intimacy with musically, and something that is particularly indispensable in music.

I am aware that this clip is not a GIF. It is much longer than the average GIF and it is in the wrong medium, however I have tried to keep something of the GIF in the clip. It is short for a piece of music, and is minimal. It is about as minimal as music can get. I have purposefully stuck to certain timbres and just a few instruments all from the same group to limit myself in the way that the GIF format limits its creator.

The sounds are all recordings of me playing a Javanese Gamelan, most of the sounds are from a slenthem, an instrument of bars suspended over resonators. I broke a few rules of Gamelan music by playing pairs of tones at once, generally very close together, clashing tones to create the shimmering, vibrating sound that you hear which is actually central to Balinese gamelan music. I then let these shimmering sounds ring out and run their course, and later reversed a couple of the sounds for the flow of the recording. (I am aware that this raises potential debate about cultural appropriation and so on, which I will happily discuss as long as it is kept civil.)

These instruments, to me at least, have some feel of mysticism about them. They are beautifully painted, shine out and have a beautiful tone, and I feel a certain one-ness when I am around them, making this very intimate to me. Then there are these shimmering sounds. The sound of different notes contrasting against each other, but in a rhythmic way demonstrates the fundamentals of what makes my entire art possible, and the simple beauty in the sound of two clashing sounds creating a rhythm to the ear through a fight for dominance, with such a mix of harmonics over the top is one of the most important and interesting sounds with a fragility that is not often enough appreciated.

Made with SoundCloud

Something that is truly intimate for me is the time that I spent as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in Bangkok, Thailand.  While I was there I made many close friends with both my Thai classmates and other exchange students.  The part of my time there that influence me the most is the relationship that grew between my Thai host mom and me.  My host mom is like another mother to me and she is the person who I miss the most now that I am back in the US.  I am always happy to talk about my time abroad but there are somethings that are too dear to me such as the relationship between my host mom and me.  Every time we skype I always end up in tears because I miss her so much.  No one in my life in the United States understands the closeness that I share with my host mom so it is very difficult to talk about how much I miss her with others, especially my birth family because I don’t want them to think that I am replacing them with my host family.  My entire time in Thailand greatly shaped who I am and I would not have the confidence I have today if it weren’t for my time as an exchange student.

Intimate Indispensable Gif - The Art Assignment.

this gif - some may not see immediately why this is something essential to me or how it is intimate so I’m going to give a little explanation.

Life is a cycle - just last week I lost a lady who was like a mother and the gif captures that emotion - same as when I lost my best friend Jay and my nana.  Your heart breaks - colour loses its vibrancy.  But the cycle continues and life will go on.

I struggle with depression and so some days this happens to me for no good reason at all, I start to cry to wonder why I’m alive why I bother why anyone on this damn planet puts up with me - plenty do and I’m grateful for each one.

And I love penguins.   If you haven’t seen march of the penguins you really should - it made me laugh and cry and it is beautiful. 

So yeah that’s my explanation and my gif :)

For The Art Assignment, Episode 3: “Intimate, Indispensable GIF”

Writing is something that is indispensable for me. It’s how I best express myself, how I share the thoughts, emotions, and stories that I have to tell with the world. I’m happiest when I’m musing on the world around me or telling a story. Writing is also a very intimate process for me. The paper you see here is a page of my current writing journal. Even though it isn’t really a “diary,” I don’t show people the inside of it often. As I say in the poem above, I believe that when you write, you put a piece of yourself on the paper. Writing, true writing, matters. It matters to both the writer and the reader. I find it difficult sometimes to share my writing with others, since I am (as close to) literally (as possible) handing them a piece of myself, a part of my soul. I fear that they will judge me harshly for what they read. I fear that they will tell me that it’s not good enough, and by extension, that am not good enough. Perhaps worst of all, I fear that they will not understand what they read, that they will come to think something of me that I’d rather they didn’t, that they will treat me differently because they believe that I’m something that I’m not.

Making this gif was a bit of a journey. I’ve only ever made gifs by uploading videos to imgflip, but the site was glitching up when I tried to upload a lot of pictures, so I went to gifpal instead. Initially I took–and wanted to use–a picture as I wrote each word, so it would seem like the viewer was reading along as I wrote, but it quickly got too big for gifpal to handle, so I had to abandon that plan. I also thought about the speed I wanted the pictures to appear; I tried to preserve the initial idea of having the viewer “read along” by putting a slight pause between each phrase in the poem. I wish it were better quality, but I was working with a cell phone camera and an online gif maker, so I guess it is what it is. I hope it’s legible. If not, here’s the text of the poem:

Writing is a person

            put on paper

A poem is a soul

            put into words

A story is a life

          that can be read

          and understood

The Art Assignment 3: Intimate, Indispensable GIF

Before my brother or I was born, my parents had another son, named Jeremy, who died at birth.  My mother used to remind me that had he not died, my brother and I most likely would not have been born. When he died, my parents got this necklace, which has a baby boot on it, to remember him by. I found it about seven years ago and have been wearing it ever since. It always reminds that, while I certainly don’t believe things happen for a “reason,” there is often some good buried inside tragedy.