Nicopanda GIF riot – Chris Timms

Nicola Formichetti's GIF countdown continues with the Dublin based artist and his rework of the Nicopanda

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As part of Nicola's Dazed takeover he emailed us about five incredible GIF designers, from Moscow to Osaka, which we - and you - should be aware of. We thought it would be fun to ask these Tumblr-ers to adapt Nicola's panda illustration, the object at the heart of Nicola's new concept fashion line Nicopanda, into one of thier own GIFs.

The next to exhibit is Chris Timms, an innovative Irish artist who using blogs and GIFs to research abstract and experimental art in new, tactile forms. His site, Sensual Objects is a stream of artful, abstract shapes, and his piece, referencing flag design, the iPhone and panda pornography is a cheeky yet sculptural form. He sent us over a piece he created, above, and you can read his answers below. 

Tell me about the panda GIF you made.

If I'm being honest I wasn't that into the panda...but I found out zoologists have tried "Panda porn" to encourage them to mate. I don't think it was successful, but interesting trying to implement human-centric technology with animals. I'm really into images of animals using stuff like ipads and touch screen tech. And I guess previous Sensual Objects gifs were kinda sexualised too. And also partly interested in symbols associated with nations unofficially. I don't know if that explains what I made...

Tell me about your practice and style.

If you have a style then people come to expect it. I think it's more interesting to work with a style appropriate to the project. Sensual Objects was all about the slick HD renders, and quite colourful. I guess this one off is in a similar vein. 

What do you do when you’re not making GIFs?

I spend the majority of my time working in the studio, trying not to spend too much time online, but there's still so much to see!

How did you start making GIFs?

I was introduced to Tumblr and got really into it. It was so exciting to find such a range of images and niche styles that people were so into, it was initially a really interesting way of thinking, a radical openness. After a while, I started figuring out which kinds of images and specifically GIFs I was drawn to, and started playing around with some 3D ware. It was never a really serious project, I just wanted to see if I could do something that was totally different to what I previously had made. 

What’s your all time favourite GIF and GIF designer?

There are way too many to single out some. From the early internet days to people making GIFs now, to the people who uncovered and archived old GIFs that were disappearing...it's pretty common on tumblr for GIFs not to be attributed to their source, so it's pretty hard to lay credit where its due. Organisations like Rhizome have great archives on the art side this kind of stuff.

Recent months have seen a return of the GIF as an item of popular discourse and funny thing to drop into an email. What do you put this down to?

I dunno – to be honest, I don't really make many GIFs that much anymore, and I certainly wouldn't call myself an expert. I only started making things last year, and, even then, the interesting time of uncovering them and experimenting with them on websites or collaboratively on Dumpfm seemed to be fading. That might be partly linked to its popularity. I guess there's been quite a few well known musicians who have drawn on the already existing cache of GIFs/"internet art" from Tumblr, and have expanded that popularity even further. It feels like the recent popularity has appeared after the initial incubation of excitement, and anyone can quickly get known as "somebody who makes GIFs" (like me), even though there are so many people who were responsible for its origins and revival. It was added as a word to the dictionary this year!

Where do you think the art of the GIF maker is going?

To go on from before, I guess some people have made some money from their work through music videos, but you get a sense that as its all free, out there and ripe for abuse – the cash is not trickling down to the Tumblrs. In terms of artists working with GIFs, I've seen people making stabs at translating GIFs into physical objects using lenticulars, projection mapping and so on, but I'm not sure it will ever translate the networked aspect of GIFs – the way in which they are exchanged through different contexts, like you, say, dropping them in an email, or seeing them pop up in unexpected places, altered or mutated was the most interesting aspect of online practices.

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