Forever Changed: The 1840’s Tate GIF Party Submission

"1858 Past and Present: Forever Changed" animated GIF by aforgrave

“1858 Past and Present: Forever Changed” animated GIF by aforgrave

I’ve been intrigued by the Tate Gallery’s 1840s GIF Party and have been looking to find the time to dive in and see what I might come up with. Any invitation to create a GIF is worthy of a response — but the opportunity to work with some old school art presents a specially unique challenge.

My first step was to GIF-eye-tis tends toward the concrete and not the abstract/psychedelic that some folks arrive at) and in the end I selected 10 paintings for potential animation. With a couple of them potentially set aside and promised to another GIF artist, I was down to eight possible choices.

Moving forward from there was a bit more difficult. I’d already seen some examples completed by ds106 colleagues, as Alan Levine (“Giffing It Like It was 1872”), Tom Woodward (“Museum Remixes”), and John Johnston (“But Is GIF Art?”) lead the way with some artful renderings. Ryan Seslow set is up as a GIFfight challenge and it was added to the ds106 Assignment Bank. Perhaps I was a bit intimidated with the subject material. After all, this is an art gallery asking us to GIF with Art. I took another look at some of the examples provided on the project site, and decided that taking a Terry Gilliam approach might work — as James Kerr aka Scorpion Dagger had done as one of the commissioned participants —  the same time, I’ve rarely attempted the Gilliam animation style.

In then end, I found my attention captured by “Past and Present, No. 1,” painted in 1858 by Augustus Leopold Egg — and was pleased with the process which unfolded as I started to work with the image. Without saying too much, I think that in the end the GIF accentuates details present in the painting so as to emphasize a particular narrative. Whether this was the original narrative of the artist, I do not know — I’ve not yet read the text accompanying the image on the Tate website — (later, having read it, yup, it works!). Perhaps this might help a few more folks to see the hidden potential for GIF-as-Art?  The classic ds106 assignment Say It Like The Peanut Butter and the If We Don’t Remember Me collection are two superior places for you to go if you need some convincing of the power of the GIF as art form.

• LINK to the full-size (1088 pixels wide) version of the GIF (817 KB).


The Tate Gallery 1840’s GIF Party is accepting submissions for a couple more days — they close their inboxes on February 2nd before the adjudication process leading up to the February 7th opening in London.  Hopefully I’ll have time to attempt a couple more submissions before then. Maybe I’ll try an abstract or a Gilliam next time?