Before the GIF features a selection of film and video from artists who use a wide range of animation techniques, including stop-motion, clay animation, and hand-drawn animated sketches. The majority of the works featured in the program were created after the introduction and popularization of the GIF (Graphic Interface Format), the now-ubiquitous digital animation form. As digital animation becomes increasingly sophisticated; ever more convincingly replacing live action filming, these artists explore the possibilities unique to analog animation forms whose primary goal is keen creativity, rather than mimetic trickery.
Nathalie Djurberg (b. 1978, Sweden) and Hans Berg’s (b. 1978, Sweden) I’m A Wild Animal (2011) and I’m Saving this Egg for Later (2011) are two clay animations depicting strange and emotional interactions between humans and animals. In Take Off (2013), Kota Ezawa (b. 1969, Germany) recreates the taped footage of George W. Bush taking off in a Marine One helicopter on C-SPAN in a watercolor-based rotoscope-style animation. Lauren Kelley’s (1975, United States) True Falsetto, 2011 pans across an abandoned picnic, as a male voice off screen narrates the planning undertaken for his unrealized romantic springtime meal.
Allison Schulnik’s (b. 1978, United States) clay animation Eager (2014) features a host of characters somewhere between human, animal, and imaginary in an abstract dance and through a woodland journey. SUN Xun’s (b. 1980, China) stop-motion animations of his painterly charcoal drawings in Shock of Time (2006) and People’s Republic of Zoo (2009) follow the story of a man drawn on reams of newspaper pages and an ominous menagerie of wild and domesticated animals. Keiichi Tanaami’s (b. 1936, Japan) OH! YOKO!, (1973) is a colorful and exuberant cartoon portrait of Yoko Ono and John Lennon in their heyday of yellow submarines and Bed-Ins.
Image: Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, I’m Saving this Egg for Later, 2010 – 2011. SD video, color, sound; 22 minutes, 23 seconds. Courtesy the artist and Kadist Foundation.