Le Cinema Micro
Some Reflections About Animated GIFS On Tumblr

I.I.) Time limit

The GIF basically derives from two other media - the early 90's web's infance GIF and the movie itself - but shows specific new qualities that none of its parent has:
There is only very limited time available for a GIF because of tumblr's upload size restrictions, but it still can tell a lot about a movie's characters, its story and its general visual qualities. This mechanism not only succeeds if you have already seen the movie - once or several times - but also if you never did. It creates either a strong interest or rejection.

Conclusion: An animated GIF can transport highly emotional content, compressed into 80-150 frames, emphasizing a short moment in a movie thus triggering interesting, boredom or rejection.

I.II.) Seamless loopability and le GIF d'auteur

A lot of tumblr users qualify GIFs by their seamless loop quality (SLQ), while others prefer graphical arrangements where particularly selected GIFs create an own individual view about a specific movie without summing it up. Very advanced GIF auteurs create loopable GIFs that persifly the loopable GIF itself or try to deconstruct the object the loopable GIF represents (signifié ).

Conclusion: Like many predecessors before a GIF can be used as a subversive media against traditional expectations. The GIF thus not only serves as a teaser, but it may also inherit a personal view – appreciation or critique. It does this by reinforcing specific narrative or visual aspects of the movie it is based upon.

III.) Microcinema

After observing publishing and reblogging paradigms in the cineastic tumblr world for some time, one can recognize the same mechanisms working as in cinema itself - blockbusters vs avantgarde, bad remakes of good screenplays, infinite sequels etc. But actually this microcinema world does not re-influence (real) cinema itself outside of the tumblr audience. So far it belongs to the passive end of a linear reception channel, together with the remote-control and the popcorn-bowl. Though it has already been discovered as a cheap teaser medium by advertising, it has not yet found its way to screenings in cinemas or the art context.

IV.) Examples

Concluding I picked some very fine examples of GIF art below:


Header GIF is created from Fish Tank (2009) by Andrea Arnold
GIFs on left column are from Loves of a Blonde (1965) by Milos Forman
GIFs on right column are from If (1968) by Lindsay Anderson