A Short Animated History of the GIF

In 1987, Com­puserve begat­teth Image For­mat 87A.

Image For­mat 87A begat­teth Graph­ics Inter­change For­mat or GIF (rhymes with a cer­tain brand of peanut but­ter, the video his­to­ry above help­ful­ly points out).

The pro­lif­er­a­tions of free online GIF gen­er­a­tors begat­teth the count­less annoy­ing, smarmy, bone­head­ed ani­mat­ed loops you’ve seen junk­ing up emails, pro­file pic­tures, and MySpace pages.

Of course, some of them are also pret­ty cool, which is why they’re being cel­e­brat­ed with a fes­ti­val at the Brook­lyn Acad­e­my of Music. No tick­ets nec­es­sary. Mov­ing the Still: A GIF Fes­ti­val will be screen­ing through June on the out­door elec­tron­ic bill­board meant to pro­mote upcom­ing and cur­rent attrac­tions. Con­ceiv­ably, view­ers with wheels and time to spare could take it in on an end­less loop of their own, by cir­cling up Flat­bush to Lafayette, then mov­ing up when the light changes, bat­tling traf­fic from the near­by Bar­clays Cen­ter on the return leg.

What do we stand to see in this fes­ti­val? The video his­to­ry leads us to believe that any­thing is pos­si­ble, though cer­tain things—accidental hap­pen­ings, laser cats, col­or­ful barf­ing (…wait, col­or­ful barfing?)—have a built in appeal.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Gallery of Stan­ley Kubrick Cin­ema­graphs: Icon­ic Moments Briefly Ani­mat­ed

Kids (and Less Savvy Mar­keters) Imag­ine the Inter­net in 1995

Ayun Hal­l­i­day grav­i­tates toward the paper GIFs known as flip books. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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