Hypnotic Vision

In anticipation of Singapore’s first ever GIF Festival, we spoke to various creatives about their tributes to a medium that celebrates its 30th birthday this year.

Interview by Thanussha Priyah 
Photography courtesy of GIF Fest & Noise Singapore

The Internet has surfaced several multimedia instruments over the years, but the Graphic Interchange Format (GIF) has emerged as an increasingly popular staple for web users. Many of us would have used GIFs from a television show or movie to acutely display our reactions to various situations, often sparking humour in the process. But more than being a vital form of communication in the digital space, the accessibility of GIFs has resulted in it becoming an art form in its own right.

The artistic creativity of GIFs was brought to life at Noise × GIF Fest 2017, an exhibition presented by Noise Singapore with creative agency Kult International. The inaugural edition, themed Spellbound, offered an opportunity for visitors to experience the digital phenomenon on a larger scale. An open call for submissions saw local artists submit 500 GIFs, from which 80 were finally selected for the exhibition. Below, we speak to some of the creatives about what it took to bring their images to life.

— Steve Lawler, Creative Director of Kult and founder and curator of the Festival, tells us about connecting the masses through digital art.

Hi Steve, tell us about the idea behind GIF Fest.

The National Arts Council (NAC) did a call for proposals for exhibition ideas. They wanted to create an art event that would excite young people and close the gap between the art world and the wider public. It has been a dream of ours to hold a multimedia show in Singapore; the gallery art scene doesn’t want to showcase digital work because it is not easy to sell and has large setup costs. But because Noise Singapore is a not-for-profit initiative, it gave us an opportunity to create and commission work that was designed for enjoyment and experience rather than sales.

What did you personally look out for when selecting the GIFs for the exhibition?

I think it is safe to say everybody loves a GIF and even the most hardened art critic will have a soft spot for one or two. There are obviously some talented people who can make beautiful animations, and their work has been standout. What was more interesting for me were the people who had never made a GIF before but were great illustrators; the guys who pushed their work to the next level. We weren’t looking for hyper slick animations, but attention-grabbing graphic ideas and fresh styles.

Read more in The U Press N˚16 (Singapore edition).