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The New Imageries of GIF Culture

International Conference

Dipartimento delle Arti, Università di Bologna

24 - 25 November 2016


Opening Night Event on November 23

This conference wants to interrogate functions and uses of the GIF image in the context of contemporary digital culture, with an emphasis on its transmedia nature. It is the first international conference that aknowledges GIFs as a legitimate object of analysis. It addresses both their social and artistic uses, as well as the potential they reveal for research in media-archaeological studies.

A paradoxical image, mobile and fixed at the same time, in the last few years the GIF has become the medium of extremely original artistic experimentations, which have ingenuously interpreted the constrictions of rhythm, repetition and seriality that characterize the format. GIFs are also ideal embodiments of the contemporary trend toward an emerging new genre of “nanocinema”.

Beyond art GIFs, the conference also addresses the cultural, social and industrial processes that are at work behind GIFs' viral or “memetic” circulation, relying on a range of different disciplines, such as film theory, visual studies, semiotics, media studies, for multiple perspectives.

Hypnotizing and surrealistic, sarcastic or simply kitsch, animated GIFs raise important questions on the status of the work of art in the age of digital reproducibility. Thinking the GIF means to focus reflection on contemporary modes of artistic production, circulation and consumption in a cultural context dominated by a condition of symbolic overproduction, where the images' lifetime is dramatically shrinked.

The conference is also intended as an opportunity for scholars from different fields to confront the experience and reflection of those artists who have taken the GIF as their privileged means of research. 

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