Culture & Arts

GIF Artist Rick Silva Interviewed On Beautiful/Decay

There's no question that GIFs have had a long history on the Internet. We've been accidentally stumbling upon them for as long as we can remember. Usually, when we think of GIFs we usually don't take it too seriously. Besides... the majority of them out there almost always include blinged-out text paired with unsightly some imagery. However, with the extreme popularity of Tumblr, GIF art has become the new and popular medium. Calgary, Canada's Rick Silva's has put his personal creativity into this art form; making sure to incorporate a balance between real-life landscape imagery and digital web geometry.

How and when did you get your start with creating .gif artwork?

I have a background in both experimental video/filmmaking and Net Art. I've been making silent loops since I was working with film as an undergrad, so it feels very natural to work with GIFs as a medium. I think the first ones I made were in 2003-04 working with a group of Net Artists on the [] blog.

What are your thoughts on this form of art's sudden popularity across websites such as Tumblr?

It's great, there's a long history of GIFs on the internet, and blogs facilitate that digital exchange and collecting culture. Artist/writers like Tom Moody and Sally McKay have written in depth about the animated GIF as an art form. I like this recent quote from Tom Moody "The best GIFs put you in a trance for as long as you want to be in it, hooking you up with the great beyond of sublime experience while keeping you in a pleasantly wised-up state as to how you are getting there."

Can you walk us through your design process? Do you usually plan out these visuals before you go forth and create them or is it more of a spontaneous approach?

Part of the process is getting out into the woods and recording videos and photos a couple times a week. Then from this database of images, most times I start with one photo or video still as the source, and create the animation element in response to the image. Sometimes the animation process happens almost effortlessly in a few minutes, other times it takes multiple days of variations and restarts.

Why the juxtaposition of structural, sometimes mathematical shapes as subjects to your scenic backgrounds?

This morning I was reading an article about Bjork's upcoming Biophilia project and it starts by saying that her whole career "has been a quest for the ultimate fusion of the organic and the electronic." I relate to Bjork on this, and the juxtapositions in Antlers Wifi can be seen as part of a similar quest/search.

How do you exhibit your work in galleries? Please explain how your live multimedia works are carried out.

It depends on the piece and the venue, a traditional monitor or projection setup is usually all that I need. In the past I've experimented with a range of approaches from creating sculpture-like modified computers to show the work in, to showing in galleries that exist only online. The live performances vary depending on the piece. In 2005 and 2006, for a project called Satellite Jockey, I would perform using Google Earth software like a DJ or VJ would use turntables or a video mixer, manipulating streaming landscapes and glitchy satellite imagery into a live mix.

What has been the most bizarre thing that someone has said about your work?

Not so much bizarre, but an interesting moment was in 2006 when I performed as Satellite Jockey at the Software Cinema Festival in Houston. During the performance people started to come up to me and request locations just like they would request a song from a DJ. It was great how to see how quickly the audience embraced the metaphor of a Satellite DJ, it felt futuristic.

Can you tell us your opinion on art coming from Calgary, Canada?

It's a young scene with a lot of energy. A friend and I just organized a show of local digital artists at an internet cafe . The turn out and response was great from both the participating artists and the crowd of 50+ people that packed the small venue.

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