CINEMAGRAPH: ART'S HYPNOTIC NEW MEDIUM
The rise of the fine art GIF
by sophie o'connor
The latest artistic sensation to capture the fickle attention of the Internet masses is the cinemagraph; a hybrid of photography and digital animation that makes a statement on capturing a dynamic moment frozen in time, with mesmerizing effect.
We are all familiar, or over familiar by now, with animated GIFs; the extravagant, rudimentary animations that exist to emote pop culture references and provide crass entertainment, but cinemagraphs are different. They have the potential to transform a photograph into a more lifelike—and more artful – image, consider them as the refined younger sister that makes the humble GIF look oh so yesterday.
Importantly, while your standard animated GIF, an acronym of Graphics Interchange Format, can be created in seconds by almost anyone, cinemagraphs begin in-camera and require both patience and expertise. They also bring several new characteristics to the digital art form; namely, isolated motion and an immense level of precision. What makes the cinemagraph so captivating is its capacity to make the entire photo more realistic, attractive and thought provoking.
The brainchild of visual artist Kevin Burg and photographer Jamie Beck’s; the original inspiration behind the conception of the cinemagraph back in 2011, was to capture living moments in the duo’s fashion photography. However, the format has since evolved into an art form of its own applicable to any genre.
Essentially, the cinemagraph is a short video is played on an endless loop over the top of a still continuous image; the artist uses fades in the video editing software to make the repetition less visible. When executed seamlessly, requiring immense precision, the cinemagraph gives the impression of a single animated image that appears to move perpetually without “resetting” after a set number of frames. The result can be magical and transports you to another reality; the animations are so subtle that it takes a moment to realize that the subject’s seemingly transfixed gaze is interrupted by a blink or a strand of hair is blowing softly in the wind.