Amo Studios is really just a tiny room hidden among several deserted blocks of warehouse buildings in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The anonymity of the gallery seemed appropriate for the vague familiarity of the artists’ work, which focused on moments remembered from their travels around the world. The artists transformed the raw space into an interactive GIF theater that viewers could peruse freely with a computer mouse mounted on a wall. The audience was encouraged to interact and people even took to drawing on walls with chalk.
GIF lover Valentina enjoys the GIFRIENDS exhibition “From Point A to Point B” as she draws on the wall. Photo: Camilo Fuentealba
But what actually is “it?” The animated GIF exists in a realm somewhere between the Internet and one’s own mind. A series of images are propelled in an infinite loop through which fleeting observations become hypnotic and surreal – more evocative than a photograph and too brief to be considered film. The GIF seems to me more like a poem, a continuous recitation of imagery. Like poetry, the GIF attempts to relate to the viewer through some sort of common understanding. An event becomes a universal experience, an observation is really more of a feeling, and a viewer is able to connect to visual stimuli on an emotional level. Although the average GIF can be felt and forgotten in a matter of seconds, many are as powerful and haunting as an incident IRL. One of the first animated GIFs that I felt especially moved by was an 8-bit image of a smiling dog. It remains serene while a pair of Ray-Bans descend slowly onto its face, suggesting passively that you simply “Deal with it.” And I did, I really did.
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