Art Basel Miami Beach, the country's buzziest art fair, is in full swing. Dozens of satellite events and temporary galleries have popped up during the fair, including "Moving the Still," an exhibition made up entirely of GIFs.
GIFs are tiny animations made from looping together a few still images – like a digital flipbook. They've become so popular the Oxford English Dictionary named GIF the word of the year. Tumblr, the blogging site where so many GIFs get their start and go viral, organized "Moving the Still" along with the online auction house Paddle8.
Johnny Misheff, one of the show's curators, wanted "Moving the Still" to bring together two distinct cultures: the purveyors of snarky pop culture GIFs and contemporary artists who are just beginning to experiment with the form. It includes one of this year's most popular GIFs, "Sassy Obama," created by Krutika Mallikarjuna and Chris Ritter for Buzzfeed. They attached a photo of the president's head to a hand-drawn animation of a swaying female body in a leotard and high-heels – an homage to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video. The GIF premiered on election night. "There's something about the movement and smile that says, 'hey yeah, I did it, back off,'" observes art critic Carolina Miranda.
But Philadelphia artist Alex Da Corte had never made a GIF before Misheff's invitation, and what's more, he spends almost no time on the internet: "I just get so bored, I'm like, 'I don't know what to do on here." Miranda says his GIFs call to mind work by video artist Bruce Nauman.
GIFs by Alex Da Corte
Miranda is happy to see digital art getting some show at the very commercial Art Basel Miami. The fair is a destination for artists, critics, and curators to see what's happening in the art world, "and the GIF," she says, "is what's happening."
GIF by Joe Kay