A man with bulging eyes. A young girl whose face is made of white carnations. A man dressed in a chicken suit running on a hamster wheel.
These wacky animated GIFs (Graphic Interchange Format) are among the 50 original bitmap images that are now playing in loop on the walls and screens at Gillman Barracks, a contemporary arts cluster in Singapore. Created by young local digital artists – both amateurs and professionals, the works are on display as part of the Noise X GIF Fest 2017, an event organized by Noise Singapore and creative agency Kult .
First developed by American software writer Steve Wilhite in 1987, GIF has become wildly popular as a tool for entertainment, political satire and other forms of creative communication. It’s also increasingly used as a medium of expression among digital artists, including those in Singapore.
One of them is Tsao En Wei, whose work “Hypnosyth” is on display at the Noise X GIF Fest.
“It’s quite a feeling. I can’t describe it. It’s a mixture of happiness and nervousness!” the 25-year-old motion graphic artist said.
Inspired by the festival’s prompt “Illusions”, she created a mesmerizing rotation of squares in a myriad of colors.
“I wanted to create something that’s not just an illusion for the eyes but for the mind,” said Ms Tsao. “I wanted to make a complementary between two extreme concepts, like opposites. It’s like quiet yet noisy. Serene yet chaotic.”
Although GIFs are usually associated with lightly humorous viral content, Ms Tsao believes the medium can also be regarded as an art form.
“GIFs are very versatile that you can even make fine arts out of it… I think GIFs is a broad kind of canvas so it’s not just for funny memes. There are endless possibilities to it,” she added.
Creative designer Dian Amirah is another young artist whose GIF “Maybe I Should Wear Lipstick Too” was showcased at the festival.
The 23-year-old tried her hand at creating her own GIFs using mobile applications Phhhoto and Boomerang a few years ago. She has since been hooked on channeling her creativity through the engaging medium.
Just last month, she launched her latest project “RANDOM SH*T SERIES” consisting of 3 quirky GIFs. Inspired by the works of art director Leta Sobierajski, the GIFs are injected with primary colors and whimsical elements.
As Ms Amirah has to abide by strict design guidelines as a graphic designer at an e-commerce company, GIFs are a creative outlet to express her unique identity.
“I need to constantly have personal projects to work on while juggling with my day job as a graphic designer in an in-house e-commerce company. It’s the only way that’ll keep my personal design identity alive,” she gushed.
As for the future of GIFs, Ms Amirah believes the GIFs are at its peak of its popularity and would continue to evolve.
“Social media platforms have adapted the feature of uploading GIFs and it has increasingly been an important role in expressing emotions and breaking news in our daily lives.
“Will GIF replace words? A new language? Seems like it!”
Noise X GIF Fest 2017 is held from Oct 5 to Oct 11 at Block 7, Gillman Barracks.
Entry is free with pre-booking required for selected workshops and talks.
More details can be found at www.giffest.com.