Textures of a GIF

Sifting through web images

Ever noticed artefacts and noise in a digital image? Such files have qualities that make them stand out with a certain look and feel. This “texture” can be compared to textures in paper and other analog media. Adding a material property to the digital image.

When online

The GIF format is without question one of the internet’s most desicive esthetic elements. Its efficient compression method made for wide-spread use throughout the 90’s and thereafter. Even now, while the internet is all about high defenition the GIF esthetic has a large fanbase.

Offline quality

GIF esthetic is dictated by it’s digital limitations. Only 256 colours can be used in one image. Found in the high res web of today, this makes for a contrast. Like a set of childrens crayons in a period of painterly realism. Several techniques used in a GIF make for a typical ordening of pixels which with a photographers vocabulary may be called its film grain. Dithering for example adds to the fuzziness of GIF images by adding noise to smooth the harsh transients between colors.
This grainy quality – praised in the analog photography community – is part of the GIF’s most prolific esthetic quality
You might compare the differences between file formats with that between pastels, aquarelle or oil paint to get an idea of it’s visual implications.

More on this


GIF’s too dull for your taste? check out this thorough glitch-art approach to file formats.
‘A Vernacular of File Formats’ by Rosa Menkman