A common art lessons in grammar school is working with different magazines and newspaper and creating collages. Especially before the days of Photoshop and Illustrator, the act of literally cutting and pasting media is a fun way to teach ideas about composition, color and content without the pressure of actually having to produce new and independent illustrations and images. And advanced collage making, like curation, requires superior skills in arrangement and visual decision making.
I recently came across the works of Hilary Faye, a Melbourne-based animator and artist who’s been making a series of GIFs pulled from materials she’s found in magazines and picture books and animated through collage. A young girl stars back at us from a chair as flowers scatter and float around her, and a naked woman weeps inconsolably in a meadow by a lake.
As she describes, Faye discovered GIF making by accident, while fiddling on images on her computer. “My exploration into the realm of GIFs was never a predetermined ambition, but rather a wonderful accident,” she wrote in an interview with Hyperallergic. “When collaging, I often alter the composition slightly, scan, and repeat the process until I’m satisfied. Flicking through the scans on the computer to determine my favourite version, I saw them move and come to life.”
Faye noted that she creates her animated collages from different cultures and time periods to tell new stories. “That’s the beauty of it,” she noted, “you can create weird narratives with unrelated images that were never intended to interact with each other.” The juxtapositions create odd, unexpected effects, as we watch mallards burst into the air behind a man in a shuka walking between boulders.
“I find it really interesting to see people approach the GIF format differently,” said Faye. Trained as an animator, she’s taken to GIFs for their transient presentation and internet-native quality, and she posts them regularly to her personal tumblelog. “GIFs seem to have an uncertain lifespan, unlike traditional framed artwork — you can’t hang it, or sell it.” Though that may be changing.