Asia’s largest GIFs showcase at National Design Centre to run till Aug 26

The bi-annual GIFFEST is back after missing its 2021 run.

Kirby Tan
Kirby Tan

Will redo the same personality test until I get the results I want.

Published: 18 May 2023, 1:12 PM

Perfection plagues society. While the need to be on top drives excellence, it can also lead to the downfall of many.

In this digital era, curating a seemingly flawless life on social media tends to be the norm. As a result, the pressure to maintain an ideal image often weighs youths down.

To alleviate this, EYEYAH!, an educational platform which uses art to encourage observation, banded over 80 artists from around the world to create a collection in Asia’s largest celebration of GIFs – GIFFEST.


The exhibition is a box-like structure with a facade that features a new GIF every few seconds. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/KIRBY TAN


Titled GIFFEST III: IMPERFECT, this interactive exhibition uses GIFs – a prominent part of social media – to showcase the beauty and value of imperfections. Visitors can view this array of GIFs on the first floor of the National Design Centre from May 18 to Aug 26 – a run that extends beyond its usual five days.


Throughout the exhibition, there are no signages that explain the meaning behind the artworks, leaving them up to interpretation. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CHONG WEN LYN


The inside is almost akin to a maze. Stepping in, visitors are greeted by the first of 11 TV screens. Each screen displays about eight GIFs from various artists. 

While typical GIFs don’t support audio, some of GIFFEST’s do. As visitors walk down the narrow pathway, they can immerse themselves in the colourful artwork adorning the walls and the sounds echoing through. 

Co-founder of EYEYAH! and curator of the exhibition, Steve Lawler, said: “There’s a range of styles and there’s a range of ideas.”

“People are going to like different aesthetics and we’ve tried to cover as many bases as possible.” 

From hand-drawn to AI-generated GIFs, this exhibition hopes to present fresh perspectives and pieces that reflect how creativity stems from imperfection. 


Steve said that while many of the featured artists are well-known, the lineup also includes those making their debut at GIFFEST. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/KIRBY TAN


Some of the artists featured are Saeko Ehara and Michelle Sherrina.

Saeko, a Japanese creator, writes codes that deconstruct famous paintings, such as Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. 


The artists are credited at the bottom with their Instagram handles. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/KIRBY TAN


Michelle, on the other hand, is an Indonesian illustrator who animates her art by hand. 


On Instagram, Michelle dubs the man “Sir Sausagenose”. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/KIRBY TAN


Besides these artworks, the exhibition also includes some interactive elements. 

One example lies in the corner of the exhibition. There, visitors can stand in front of a black mirror and watch their reflections get transformed into colourful, humanoid figures.


The camera on top captures and detects people once they’re in range. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CHONG WEN LYN


There is also a portable DVD player displaying a series of 80’s advertisements. This piece by New World Plaza will only run after visitors hit the “play” button. 


The video runs for about four minutes. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/KIRBY TAN


Scattered around the exhibition are quotes depicting the merits of imperfection. Steve said the sentiment GIFFEST III: IMPERFECT hopes to impart is that “our lives would be really boring if things were always perfect”.

“Sometimes, the pressure of perfection is stifling and suffocating,” he said. “So, this is a very lighthearted show that looks at the social aspect of imperfection.

“If you’re a young person who’s feeling the pressure of exams, or feeling the pressure of everyday life, you can come here and see some beautiful mistakes and some great examples of experimentation.”

GIFFEST III: IMPERFECT is free to enter and is open from 9am to 9pm. 

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