Artist Joe Winograd brings GIFs into the real world through lenticular printing.
With an adaptability that defies its hyperactive appearance, the animated GIF is both the ego and the id, the yin and the yang, of the cyberspace psyche. Now, a number of efforts are being made by new media artists and galleries to bring the GIF, in all its manic and glitchy glory, out into the three-dimensional world. Transfer Gallery now offers lenticular prints—physical objects that move when turned—that make the GIF something to be handled or even hung on a wall like traditional artwork. Electric Objects, a company that aims to bring Internet art into homes, could become a nifty trojan horse for getting GIF art into the home. Brooklyn-based multimedia artist Joe Winograd is taking the idea of the hybrid digital-tangible GIF to its ultimate conclusion. His animated, psychedelic day-glo GIFs already resemble lenticular prints when viewed on his Tumblr, but Winograd doesn't stop there—he gets reflexive. Working with gifpop!, a purveyor of custom-made GIF cards, Winograd prints his lenticular-looking animated GIFs as lenticular objects.
Considering his BFA in Printmaking from Washington University in Saint Louis, these GIF prints might seem like a perfect fit for Winograd, but his influences at the time were mainly cinematic and psychedelic creators. Winograd cited filmmakers Federico Fellini and Sergei Eisentstein, musicians Sun Ra and Flying Lotus, and artists Rashid Johnson and Christian Marclay as pivotal inspirations. At the time, Winograd was more into creating “chaotic and immersive multimedia installations and performances.” While his work always utilized physical processes and had a handmade quality to it, he was interested in how his actions mimicked his habits on the Internet and his interaction with digital cultures. It was only a matter of time before he arrived at the digital and handmade fusion of lenticular GIF prints. This artistic transformation began when he moved to New York City in 2013, and found work at a Chelsea gallery. Winograd also worked as a studio assistant for artists Kenny Scharf, Dustin Yellin, and Stephen "ESPO" Powers.
“Without space for a physical art practice, I began experimenting on my computer to satisfy my need to constantly create,” Winograd said. “My initial digital animations were lo-fi and disjointed. I was teaching myself from scratch how to create stop-motion animations with basic Photoshop designs and manipulated audio soundtracks for my Tumblr page.” Winograd's first experiments in digital motion featured simple color forms such as grids and geometric patterns that changed color or made short, looping movements. Many of these early animations were made with random number generators to denote color choices according to an RGB color scale. This, Winograd said, was similar to John Cage's use of random chance in musical compositions.
A skiing accident this spring forced Winograd to create digital art with drawing exercises on a mousepad with his left hand. This made him rethink the way he worked. The series of animations titled d'Gorg came out of this time, which Winograd said are hand-drawn psychedelic forms and digital patterns. “I also incorporated other handmade processes in my animations, such as Ebru marbling, a traditional paper-dyeing technique I would imitate with acrylic paints on vinyl LP records and other flat surfaces,” he continued. While he's come up with tricks and strategies for his digital art, Winograd said the minimal feel of the new work is similar to traditional animation, and he's now incorporating the idea of remix and pastiche collage into his work. For some of this work Winograd uses photoshop filters and layer-editing to to break down and reanimate video clips and cartoon animations in abstract ways. One recent piece features footage of Jimi Hendrix being interviewed, with Winograd's glitchy distortions robbing the guitarist of his iconic face.
Winograd likes GIF animation for its abilities to package and present art, but he also feels like their looping nature is a bit like that of life's daily routines. “To me, living and working with the Internet is much like my life in New York, the way I constantly feed through a spin cycle with millions of other unique and creative human beings following their own routines,” Winograd told The Creators Project. “Commute-Work-Rest-Repeat simulates Log On-Browse-Download-Repeat.” Winograd's most recent psychedelic GIF animations play with this idea. He likes the idea of patterns and clusters constantly changing and wiggling around, as they do with human activity in major cities. Thinking of the insectile movements of people in and around Time Square's hyperreal pop vortex makes Winograd's GIFs become more than just visually dazzling work. They look like the abstractions of human movement.
: Untitled digital collage and stop-motion animation loop (GIF), September 16 2014
Winograd recently designed looping animations for electronic music artist Dillon Francis' live shows, and is curating GIFs with sound bytes and music on Zeega. This summer, he was also was part of gif.local, an online group GIF art exhibition as part of Eybeam-Off-The-Grid's LittleNets project, which used custom mesh networks to bring connectivity to its Governors Island location.
This December, Winograd will display a series of GIF animations of psychedelic color loops and pop collages as part of a group exhibition with Sweet 'Art Collective. Until then, stay tuned to Winograd's Tumblr for more entries in a constant stream of cyberdelic GIFs.