The .gif is one of the most intriguing mediums used in net art. Lingering somewhere between video and picture, the .gif is neither one nor the other, but somehow both. Its perpetual motions are precisely hypnotic and purely mystical. Net artist Vince McKelvie maximises these qualities of the .gif in his work with intense pulsating 3D forms. These mesmerising .gifs – ranging from geometric to biomorphic – are submerged in overwhelming visual detail, appearing as if one could almost draw each from within the screen and into the palm of a hand. What is even more delightful is the psychedelic strobing of colours and the multiplication of the image when the .gif is moused over on the artist’s tumblr. McKelvie plays upon perception and visual engagement – these .gifs require the viewer to surrender themself wholly to the palpitations, to the harsh acidic colours, and to the carefully calculated hypnotic repetition.
The realm of net art is an unstable one. Its foundation is digital technology – a foundation that is arguably too certain of itself. In a world where we’ve built empires upon the virtual domain, the question persists: what will become of digital information generations from today when the technology will be unrecognisable? Net art – unlike the more traditional mediums of painting, sculpting, and even photography – is inseparable from the virtual space it occupies. A painting can be removed from a wall and placed on another. A digital photograph can be printed into its physical form. But a .gif relies on its digital foundation to exist; it cannot simply be printed as a moving image – at least not yet. Will this art still be accessible five hundred years from now? Net art also begs the question of ownership. Defying centuries of well-ingrained notions of the prestige of owning, collecting, and viewing art, net art is decidedly democratised. Anyone can look at it. Anyone can reproduce it. Anyone can use it as their own. Anyone who has access to the technology, that is. This phenomenon is even more so amplified with the use of tumblr, whose users feed parasitically off of one another by reblogging images. By choosing tumblr (and even by uploading his work online), McKelvie inserts himself into an ever-progressing, ever-transforming dialogue of image distribution.
Panther Modern is a file-based exhibition space, encouraging artists to create site-specific installations for the internet. Each project shown at Panther is given a unique structure in the format of a 3D model file, which built to engage the artist and their process of making. Given the variety of methods available to produce works in virtual space, the artist is able to choose the format in which they will share their installations. Completed rooms are added to the existing architecture, allowing the shape of Panther Modern to change with each project.
When did you first start making GIFs? What was the first GIF you made?
I first started making gifs around the time myspace was big so i could make cool profile pictures but then stopped for a long time because I started doing more linear video and animations, which was a huge mistake, I should have just stuck with gifs the whole time. The first gif I made was a pixilation of me consuming a toy car and seeing it drive all around inside my body by drawing marker tracks on my arms, legs and head. I just checked myspace to see if it was still there, but myspace is all different now :/.
What kind of a process do you go through to create your art?
Recently I’ve been making abstract 3d forms with transparent backgrounds. Usually the 3d object is floating freely in the frame, making it ideal for using it in different contexts, like tumblr or Giphy. I also just made an app called Tumblr Page Performer that dynamically pulls images and gifs from any tumblr and animates them across the user’s screen. On the technical side I use blender for all the 3d elements, then the usual after effects/photoshop for compositing and output. Also all my 3d files, .movs, and image sequences are free to download, which creates another potential context for my gifs.
Why GIF art? What makes it more appealing than other mediums?
Gifs are the polaroids of animation, they’re instant gratification, they’re simple but complex at the same time. They also bring up feelings of nostalgia . I work in a lot of digital media, most of which require a lot of programming. As a result, my workflow is very ordered and logical. My gifs are all made through stream of conciseness and experimentation so it’s very freeing for me. It’s also important to me to be able to display my images in a dynamic context which would be difficult with other media.
Who are a few of your favorite GIF artists/ or artists in general?