Monday, April 08, 2013

Vintage Photos Enter Spooky Afterlife as Animated GIFs

When Photoshop wizard Kevin Weir spots a somber, 19th-century Russian man in the Library of Congress’ Flickr archive, he sees more than a black-and-white photograph: He imagines a pagan who sprouts an outraged, bestial head when nobody’s looking, then resumes his pose as a solid citizen.

That’s just one vivid vision Weir has turned into an animated GIF, part of his ongoing series of vintage images transformed into absurdist portraits for the internet age.

“I just stare at the picture for a while and things start coming to me that I want to bring to life,” he told Wired in a phone interview.

By adding a dash of dark secrets ripped from his imagination, Weir has turned animated GIFs — those blinking relics of early web imagery — into freakish, alt-history fantasies that call to mind Monty Python animations and H.P. Lovecraft’s creatures.

Weir’s not the only one doing interesting work in the formerly hackneyed medium: From classic comic books to Breaking Bad, various subjects have been reimagined as part of an ongoing animated GIF renaissance, fueled in part by the popularity of Tumblr.

“Animated GIFs in the ’90s used to be kind of hokey,” said Weir, who became obsessed with the looping visuals while cranking out banner ads last summer during an internship at a Los Angeles ad agency. But the technique of embedding a single image file with hidden “frames” timed to create the illusion of movement has become a promising artistic tool. “Because of faster, fatter internet pipelines,” he said, “you can create much bigger, more interesting files.”

Turned on by a friend to the Library of Congress’ royalty-free photo stream, Weir trawls the site for pictures that appear ripe for his ingenious mini-movie morph jobs, which he posts on his Flux Machine Tumblr.

“I just look for great compositions and compelling characters,” said Weir, a 23-year-old student working on a master’s degree in advertising at Virginia’s VCU Brandcenter.

To see more of Weir’s fantastical transformations, check the gallery above for antique images he’s layered with visions of gunpowder phantoms, man-eating buildings and Lovecraft-inspired monsters.

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Check out the link for 8 more of Kevin Weir's awesome animated GIF's. 

In case you missed it, I posted about Animated GIF's:



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