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GIF-tastic! Let's revive the archive!

We might not always agree on how to pronounce it, but we do take GIFs very seriously. A Graphics Interchange Format, or a GIF, is such an unassuming yet very powerful format spreading virally across all digital communication channels. Its raw characteristics and DIY making approach inspired us here at Sound and Vision to explore new possibilities for opening up and reinterpreting archival audio-visual collections with the help of GIFs. In this blog, we recount our ventures into the exciting world of GIFs and discuss how they can spark unexpected creations and invite new audiences to engage with archival materials.

Source: Kunstbende

GIPHY channel

Sound and Vision started its journey with GIFs on a GIPHY channel. Apart from making GIFs ourselves, here we invited young artists to delve into the openly licensed collections available online via Open Beelden website and make their own creations. They eagerly took on the challenge and uncovered some truly hidden gems. With this small looping format they made historic audio-visual heritage relevant again and allowed it to get new meanings and use in a contemporary context.


The impact of this project continues to be overwhelming. The channel attracts millions of views and our GIFs have spread around the web giving a glimpse into the richness of our audio-visual collections. These GIFs might be only a few seconds in length but their reach proved to be very wide, in particular attracting younger audiences and creators to discover the potential of digitised collections published under open license.


DIY Workshops

The enthusiastic response from the creators got us thinking about other GIF making possibilities. GIF is a very open medium that is not limited to the digital. Anything goes here - mixing and matching digital with analogue, moving imagery with still pictures, visual materials with texts and even incorporating different textures.

We decided to leave the technique of GIF making in the hands of young makers and designed hands-on workshops where they could explore and experiment with different possibilities. We invited creators to start with a kind of Online-Offline-Online approach - in each workshop we prepared printed still shots from various videos in the archival collections, let the creators transform them with analogue techniques, anything from coloured pencils and stickers to embroidery, and then turned the finished creations into digital GIFs.

With these workshops we try to promote the creative reusability of archival collections as well as spread the message about how easy and fun it is to make GIFs to young creators and broader audiences. So far we have invited students from the Art Academy to a GIF-a-thon, held an open GIF making session for young talents and the general public during the Kunstbende festival, as well as organised a couple of workshops for our colleagues at Sound and Vision. The results have been incredibly rewarding, boosting the interest in open license materials for creative reuse way beyond the scope of GIFs. Seeing how these new creations bring our archival materials back to life is a strong encouragement for us to further open up the collections and share their potential with our audiences.

What’s next?

We have some big and exciting plans for GIFs on our agenda. In August, we are organising The Ultimate GIF Battle where everyone is welcome to participate and make GIFs using materials from the Open Beelden website. The winner will earn the title of the Master extraordinaire Open Beelden GIF Maker 2018 and a 100 euros! This will culminate in an event on the 6th of September during the Dutch Media Week when we will dig into the art of GIF and exhibit all the competition entries. Also, several GIF making sessions will be held during the Dutch Media Week. Watch this space for more updates on all the GIF making fun!