This article was published on July 7, 2015

Broken GIFs are the Web’s most creepy and compelling art form


Broken GIFs are the Web’s most creepy and compelling art form
Owen Williams
Story by

Owen Williams

Former TNW employee

Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their word Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their words friendlier. In his spare time he codes, writes newsletters and cycles around the city.

I discovered my favorite new thing in a tiny corner of Reddit recently: a collection of broken GIFs.

There’s a surprising active subreddit with 36,000 users that’s described as a home for “gifs that are creepily broken.” It doesn’t matter if they’re real or intentional, they’re a fun exploration of glitch art in moving form.

getMCFy
By Reddit user ‘Jolivio

Users who aren’t so tech-savvy can request a GIF be broken for them or can learn for themselves with a detailed tutorial on “datamoshing.”

That’s the process of modifying the source video to break it. Traditional glitch art is created by directly modifying the hexadecimal code that represents an image to distort it in unexpected ways.

SXPMx2n
By Reddit user ‘CandidCulture

Broken GIFs are mostly intentionally created by removing parts of frames from videos using specialized software, which breaks the image in a controlled, but still somewhat unpredictable way. The result: a carefully crafted GIF that’s either amusing or downright creepy.

Nks6rNr
By Reddit user ‘diceroll123

Those well versed in creating them are able to combine two scenes into a single GIF to make the effect even more pronounced, as pictured above.

Broken GIFs has been around on Reddit for three years, but it’s easily my favorite subreddit now. Just when I thought I’d run out of great GIFs, even the ones I love can be remixed into something new.

tumblr_mbn8358Z6l1reeolao1_500
Posted by Reddit user ‘Emazon7790

Broken GIFs [Reddit]

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Featured image credit: Baconnaked