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Meet the guy who paints GIFs on London’s walls

Posted at 10:00 am, January 23, 2015 in Arts & Entertainment
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You might want to take a closer look at some of the graffiti on London’s walls. An artist has been using them as the canvas for a half-digital, half-physical project. 

INSA paints layers of slightly-differing murals over the top of each other, photographing each layer has he goes. He then edits the final pictures together to create snazzy GIFs. We chatted to him about how why he decided to merge the internet with the real world.

What was the first GIF you painted?

This was one of the first GIF pieces I painted. It was quite simple. I had been doing graffiti for many years before that, and I’d painted in many countries around the world.’

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How did you come up with the idea?

‘I’d been thinking a lot about how people were actually seeing my work. I realised that even if I painted a huge mural, more people were looking at the one or two photos of it that circulate online than in real life. I thought – why not make the internet the best way to view my work, make a web browser the only platform for seeing the final work.’

How many layers of paint do you need to get a perfect smooth GIF?

‘Four is pretty much the minimum numbers of frames to make a basic stripe move smoothly, but then I’ve painted many frames before. Sometimes it’s up to 498 layers to get the effect I want.’

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Redchurch Street

How do people react to the GIF-ITI?

‘I get the impression people love it. I think the dynamic between manual labour and the digital output really resonates with people. We have lots of amazing digital art in the world, but the visible physical human effort is what people connect to in the GIF-ITI.’

Do you think art is going to increasingly bridge the gap between the internet and reality?

‘Every part of our lives merge these two spheres, so it’s a natural consequence that art does as well. I find the parallel lives we live – on and offline – fascinating, With technology evolving around us, it really is the job of the artist to help try and understand what this means.’

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New Cross

Whereabouts in London can we find your GIF-ITI?

I have a fairly new piece painted on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch. This is a painting that interacts with my latest release, the GIF-ITI VIEWER app, which you can use to find my GIFiti walls around the world and look through your phone or tablet and see the animated version in real-time, in real-life.’

Is there a dream London location you’d like to turn into a GIF?

‘I’m getting more into the concept of augmented reality and how I can use this to paint spots that would never be possible normally. I would love to paint the Houses of Parliament.’

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Redchurch Street

What’s next for you?

‘I have just released a project that takes the idea pretty far: the largest GIF in the world painted in Rio and captured by a satellite 400 miles away in space. I want to develop new ways for viewers to experience time and space, in and out of the virtual space.’

The GIF-ITI VIEWER is free and available to download here.

By Kate Lloyd

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