Artist Pieterjan Grandry created a great phenakistoscope-like device for showcasing animated GIFs. Grandry writes “…after some research on Plateau’s original design, I succeeded to build a device capable of playing animated gifs, incorporating led lights, microchips and magnetic sensors. The Gif player is a wooden box, much like a turntable, with a dimmer to adjust the speed of the animation and a small looking hole in the front.”
I really like the player’s design: a plain wooden box with a small circular hole for viewing the animation. It’s always interesting when contemporary artists take delight in recreating or reimagining pre-cinematic optical technologies, and given the popularity of the animated GIF (itself a relatively low-tech enterprise), it’s great to see it placed in an even more comprehensive historical context. It’s also fun to imagine what kinds of capabilities these physical devices might offer for experiencing familiar online content in new ways. One article, for example, proposed that ” Now with a few million of these things, we could recreate the entirety of Tumblr, sans Internet.” What a marvelous exhibition that would be.
For more on the GIF Player, visit Grandry’s project page (images from there).
For a similar project, check out Physical GIF.