The clip plays. And then it plays again and again, eternally. It’s hypnotic, predictable, and oddly enthralling. But your computer isn't broken—you're watching an animated GIF.
Previously considered a relic of the Geocities Age of the Internet, the graphics interchange format have recently made a comeback, and Jonathan Vingiano, a Brooklyn-based GIF artist, has a few ideas why.
"I think the resurgence of GIF animations really can be attributed to people becoming more comfortable with tools. Photoshop is everywhere and people are becoming more and more literate with technology,” Vingiano told the Daily Dot.
“GIFs are popular because storytelling is popular – GIFs are a simple and straightforward way to tell a story."
Vingiano is the creator of Le Meme, a popular blog that aggregates some of the funniest GIF animations and images from around the Web. The three-year-old site has become a favorite among meme junkies for more than cheap laughs, Vingiano said.
“The dialogue and conversational nature of the blog is what I think draws people to it and makes it different from blogs that might explore the same aesthetic,” he said. “There is something personal and honest about it that I think is lacking elsewhere.”
The 25-year-old Vingiano started the site while studying at Emerson College with friends Daniel Domingo de Lara (aka Asian Dan), Zack Sears, and Will Wheeler. The site now has 10 different contributors and collects about 200,000 unique visitors a month.
“In our minds, everything on there is funny to some degree,” Vingiano said.
“Making us laugh is definitely important but there's more to it than a cheap laugh sometimes. A lot of the content we post holds a mirror to the way people use the Internet.”
GIF artists Vingiano admires include Mr. Gif, a group of three graphic designers from New York and New Jersey, and Lacey Micallef, better known as Lulinternet. Unlike Le Meme, both Mr. Gif and Lulinternet feature their work on Tumblr, the microblogging site that has become a breeding ground for new artists. Yet, while Tumblr may have “changed blogging forever,” Vingiano is happy to see the format extend well past the computer screen.
“I think creating GIFs on mobile devices is awesome,” he said. “It lowers the barrier to entry for creators and allows for a community to develop around the form.
“The type of GIF also changes since the tools on mobile devices do not allow for very careful editing quite yet, so the experience of both creating and consuming the image is much more visceral.”
- ROFLcon: The GIFs that Keep on GIFing
- Saturday, 1:30 pm, Track B
Photo via @jgv