GIF art continues to become more sophisticated, and despite the limitations of the medium, artists and designers are defining their own styles. The play of basic shapes to form complex patterns is ripe territory for a lot of GIF artists with a mathematical bent. The results are entrancing, and the more closely you look the more you realize that what seems a simple pattern is far from linear.
If kids need to get more inspired about the possibilities of math and physics, these gifs might serve as a little inspiration. And for the rest of us, it’s a pleasant brain melt to watch them. And—here in Washington—if you are enjoying legal weed, I can recommend these GIFs instead of psychedelic posters and lava lamps, as these won’t clutter your room or scald you.
Caveat: These artists do not skimp on the size of their GIFs, so mobile phone users on a limited data plan may want to wait until they are at a computer before loading the GIFs below. (You’ll get a better view of them on a full screen anyways.)
Matthew DiVito AKA Mr. Div
For those old enough to remember, the warm, grainy, retro aesthetic of Matthew DiVito’s GIFs may take one back to early video games and “futuristic” graphics of television twenty years back. The smoothness and complexity of DiVito’s work is actually more advanced than those graphics, but it seems to be coming through a cathode ray. In addition to GIFs, DiVito also makes album art, videos and short video games under the name Ludum Dare. You can check them out on his website. The games are brief with simple mechanics, yet very atmospheric and enigmatic. I especially liked my three minutes roaming through The White Rabbit.
Dave Whyte AKA Bees & Bombs
The prolific GIF artist Dave Whyte is a physicist by day, but he moonlights as one of the Internet’s favorite GIF makers. His mathematical animations work primarily from simple shapes and patterns, but his treatment of them plays with paradox, space and infinity, making these fascinating abstract concepts into a visual feast. Whyte clearly likes making these things more accessible to people, so for fellow coders he tweets the elegant source code used to create his images. Check out his Tumblr to see more of his work…but make sure you have a chunk of time to spare. It’s quite the wormhole.
Designer Erik Söderberg created a series of fractal-based animations as a personal project this year. It was based on a 2011 fractal project that explored “the relations of geometry, nature and the human being.” He gave him self some constraints that help limit the size and promote creativity. The GIFs all use the same dark palette and are limited to a maximum of 48 frames, with most only 10-15 frames in size.
Etymology fans will know that the word “geometry” basically breaks down to “earth measuring.” This owes to its applications in surveying and architecture among other things, but in this context, Söderberg gives an especially earthy, organic vibe to digital, mathematical forms. Fractal forms are a reminder that mathematical ideals are found in all complex life, and these slightly gritty GIFs in turn give complex life to mathematical ideals.
If you like GIF art, check out another completely different approach by Erdal Inci.