While the rest of us were out here embroiled in the neverending debate about how to pronounce GIF (I’m Team Hard-G, for all of those wondering), the online GIF database and search engine GIPHY assembled the world’s first-ever animated book of GIF art, Frame By Frame.
A book of GIFs might sound like an oxymoron, but GIPHY was up for taking on the creative challenge, blending their new-world tech with some distinctly retro visuals that push the bounds of the printed page’s ability to convey motion. The finished product is a frenetic, limited edition (750 copies), coil-bound 85-page book of lenticular holograms, stickers, sequential imagers, flip pages, and QR codes contributed by 35 international artists. Within its matte laminated pages, you’ll find a smattering of vibrant aesthetics and styles, including claymation, celluloid (hand-drawn) animation, computer renders, and photographic portraits.
The project began as a means of supporting independent artists during the pandemic, with GIPHY approaching each contributor back in 2020 with the prompt of interpreting their brand’s mantra, “Be Animated,” in a way that could live within physical pages. The resulting assortment of original works were each created during the height of the COVID-19, with the artists set to “explore the renewal and development of creative energy and their individual perspectives during a period of collective transition,” as explained on the GIPHY site.
Naturally, Frame By Frame was simultaneously developed as digital animations, with the QR codes presented in the book driving to corresponding digital GIFs on GIPHY. The intention here is to provide viewers with the chance to go from a medium where they can take in and fully appreciate the details of a single frame of an animation to one where they can view the piece in its dynamic entirety digitally.
Ultimately, “the motion of the screen is brought to the page in tactile and surprising ways” within Frame By Frame, says GIPHY. So, though we might never come to a cultural consensus about the pronunciation of GIF, maybe we can agree that there are fruitful ways to marry digital and physical artforms.