Museum Exhibit of Popular GIFs Explores the Moving Image as Gesture

Animated GIFs have emerged as a new form of lexicon for the internet age. A recent museum exhibition highlighted 37 of the most popular reaction GIFs on the internet.

What's the Latest?


Perhaps there's more to Michael Jackson eating popcorn than meets the eye. You may have encountered the famous MJ GIF around the internet, whether embedded in a Buzzfeed article or posted on a message board in a "this is gonna' be good" manner. You might also have seen it in an art exhibition if you happened to be in New York last month and paid a visit to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. That's right, a museum exhibition of GIFs. Don't give me that look. I'm serious. The Library of Congress recently interviewed the exhibition's curator, Jason Eppink, for its blog The Signal.

What's the Big Idea?

What makes GIFs so fascinating to Eppink is how they serve as a visual means of communication outside the realm of normal language, an idea articulated well in the exhibit's subtitle: Moving Image as Gesture. You can see why it makes sense then that a museum dedicated to the moving image would be the perfect place to explore the medium. The GIF's growing popularity leads one to believe that its stock is likely to rise in the eyes of artists and linguists around the world. Eppink's exhibit featured a short canon of 37 of the internet's most popular GIFs, assembled with help from posters on the website Reddit.

Although the interview mentions it, Eppink did not take a stand on the most controversial issue surround GIFs -- the pronunciation. It it "jiff" or "giff?" Perhaps that's the stuff of a future exhibition...

Read more at The Museum of the Moving Image

Read the interview with Jason Eppink on the Library of Congress' The Signal blog.

Photo credit: Stuart Miles/Shutterstock

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