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Announcing GIF Collider

In celebration of the internet archive’s 20th anniversary, the Berkeley Center for New Media and BAMPFA are presenting a Javascript program by artists Greg Niemeyer, Olya Dubatova, and Brewster Kahle, that explores a trove of visual culture preserved by the archive, with live accompaniment by Pixies guitarist Paz Lenchantin.

GIF Collider is an endlessly looping program featuring 4.5 million GIF (Graphic Interchange File) image animations created between 1996 to 2007 by users of Geocities, a free web hosting service. The program randomly selects six GIF images and displays them dancing onscreen until they collide in a melee; only one of the six images survives and the others fade away. The image most likely to survive is the one that was reused the least number of times in the Geocities domain.

Considered one of the precursors of social media, Geocities is now defunct but remains a major milestone in the history of the Internet. It was the first to give millions of users the ability to create their own personal websites, a form of digital folk art. GIF Collider shows how radically the aesthetics and the very way of producing and organizing information online has evolved in just twenty years, and reminds us that Internet culture is still in the process of dynamic formation.

GIF Collider will run on the BAMPFA outdoor screen on the hour over four days. You can view the program at gifcollider.com.

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