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Get your GIF on with exhibit.gif

Exhibit.gif’s second exhibition is titled inrealife.gif and takes place on June 30th at the KnexT Art Gallery in Cape Town. The best thing about it is that submissions are open to everyone, which means that toaster photos, drawings, animations, collage, code and other modes of GIF creation are all most welcome.

Where text and emojis fail, GIFs thrive. There’s a sweet pleasure in knowing the exact feeling you’re trying to communicate can be summed up with an animated image. For Linley Rall, Julian Brookstone, Jean-Jacques Rossouw and Sharleen Hollick, their love for the medium extended beyond online communication and inspired them to curate exhibitions dedicated to the beloved GIF.

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Tell us about the history and inspiration behind exhibit.gif.

The collective was started by four friends, Linley Rall, Julian Brookstone, Jean-Jacques Rossouw and Sharleen Hollick who shared a love for the GIF format. We’ve all come from creative backgrounds and have experimented with the format in different ways. Having found the medium to be so creatively diverse and rewarding, we wanted to encourage others to explore it, and also to give GIFs the attention they deserved by honouring them in a physical gallery space. We had our first exhibition in January this year, which had over 200 submissions from 55 artists from all around South Africa. We’ve since had two creative technologists, Jennifer Cohen and Duncan Cosser, join our team to add some more tech awesomeness to our exhibits. We’ve set a date, and opened submissions for our second exhibition, themed “In Real Life”.

GIFs have been around for 29 years. Why do you think they’ve become such a phenomenon?

Social media has embraced the format and made GIFs more popular because of their shareable nature. GIFs are an important symbol of our digital culture now. They’re more engaging than a picture and more instant than a video. They capture perfect moments, allowing so much to be said in such a small amount of time. We like to think of GIFs as the perfect bite-size media.

You’ve put out  an open call for submissions for your upcoming exhibition. What do you think makes for a good GIF?

There are so many different types of GIFs that all have different merits. Originality is really important. GIFs that draw from topical cultural references have ability to spark some sorts of reactions because they’re essentially little stories. They should be effective in a small time frame and be small enough in file size to share online.

Most people can makes GIFs because of easy-to-use social media apps. What makes someone a true GIF artist?

We believe that anybody can be a GIF artist, that’s the beauty of the medium. These social media apps provide the template, but it is when people push the boundaries of the medium that it becomes a piece of art. All you need is a little imagination! A good GIF artist has an understanding of motion and storytelling. Even someone producing abstract code rendered graphics has some story to tell. We love that our exhibitions include people from a wide variety of creative disciplines. Many artists are experimenting with and pushing the boundaries of the format and it’s a great way to combine technology.

What do you love most about GIFs?

A GIF is able to capture and describe any moment. We love how they are spread and shared and how they’ve worked their way into everyday life. They’re becoming an increasingly vital form of communication, especially when text alone can’t communicate with the same amount of speed and effectiveness.

To submit a GIF to the upcoming ‘In Real Life’ themed exhibit, click here.

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‘Sunscream’ by Baden Moir & Lauren Walker for The Plastics


‘Radical Islam’ by Gerhard Human


‘S∆∆B’ by The Kinetic

Cover GIF by Stuart Zeneka.


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