– selling a GIF as an artwork is a recent project from Kim Asendorf and Ole Fach. They have created an instant digital art market for selling unique digital files in the form of the increasingly art-friendly format of animated GIFs.

The GIF Market anticipates and encourages the acceptance of digital artworks as a collector’s item. Digital files, particularly those that began life on the Internet, naturally lend themselves to being copied, remixed and shared and therefore do not naturally align with a traditional artwork; the value of which is determined by exclusive ownership and scarcity. Rhizome have previously sold GIFs at a New York art market and validated the exchange by delivering the file in a more tangible format (USB drive) but more importantly by also taking the file offline to guarantee exclusivity. It seems an odd choice to make an artwork in a medium that lends itself to ease of transmission (and also owes it’s own popularity to this affordance) and to then take it out of circulation once sold. Tom Moody had an exchange with the artist regarding the rationale for ‘taking it offline‘ that is worth reading. The artists states that as part of her practice she is continually adding and removing work from her website.

In contrast to Rhizomes approach the GIF market is both a platform for sale and ongoing exhibition of work. They validate the exchange by providing a receipt of payment and also putting the owners name with hyperlink against the particular piece. Since the GIF is hosted there and online I can use standard Internet protocols to display it here and not hide it away from the world: (Below is my own – #247)

Gareth Foote - GIF#247

Each work in the GIF market has a mathematically determined form both from the perspective of its creation and display using code/software (as all computer generated files are) and the determination of value through its relative uniqueness within the market (explained below). I also assume that each GIF was generated using an algorithmic process, opposed to being drawn frame by frame using a graphics editing program, although I cannot be certain about this without the artists input.

This alignment of medium, form and concept adds to the aesthetic of each piece and the market as a whole. On top of all of this my GIF has already tripled in value, which can’t be bad. =]

Artist explanation of the series and calculated cost:

The project contains a series of 1024 animated GIFs, each named by a #number. The GIFs show a black line which marks the centre for the 1px large particles rotating around it. #1 is the most unique, it has only 1 pixel flying around, and therefore the most expensive. Down to the end there are so many particles that you can’t see the difference between #950 and #1000.

The price gets calculated by this formula:


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