In an Eternal Loop: Street Art Gifs with A.L. Crego

I know that all this mind chaos is generated by the brutal flow of information on the web, but I think that we have the duty to stop and think deeply about where we are going.

Art by A.L. Crego Interview by Tiffany Credle
Bound and Gagged © A.L. Crego

Light by Sr. X Gif © A.L. Crego

Cinemagraph artist A.L. Crego has gained popularity for his approach to “animating the walls of the internet”. His gif creations are true labors of love and passion. Recently Citizen Brooklyn was lucky enough to get an in-depth look at the motivation and process behind his street art gifs.

Citizen Brooklyn: When did you become interested in gif art and what motivated you to use this medium as an artist?
Well, it was a slow process. I was learning about light, colors, shapes, composition, motion design, editing and digital retouching to make my own worlds possible, because I think that nowadays “reality” is more false than “virtual reality”; and with all of this technology, I managed to create my own thoughts in photos.

Industrialism © A.L. Crego

Original artwork by M-City Gif © A.L. Crego

I never stop reading and studying about sociology, psychology and I’m really interested in network relationships and how virtual anarchy works. Despite this, I do not have any social networks, unless they are artistic ones.

Times are changing so fast that I’ve begun to think that we are ignoring so many things. I mean, photography has existed for about a hundred and fifty years. We experiment with it in so many ways, and we’ve had the time to understand it. Today everybody has a video camera too, but it was too fast. Everybody shoots video, but hardly anyone really knows how to do it well. So I stopped and began to analyze what the thing I was ignoring. The focus is the cinemagraph, from my point of view. It is like a still video or a motion photo. I always say that gif art is taking one  step forwards, and one step backwards.

Swinging © A.L. Crego

Original artwork by Wedo Gif © A.L. Crego

When “cinemagraphs” appeared on the web I focused on them, but only to study the mechanism that made people love them. I did thousands of cinemagraphs because with a gif we can give more meaning to the picture. Sometimes in a static picture we can misunderstand the information, but when it has motion, we can understand almost perfectly the whole meaning, especially in street art. I think Cartier Bresson would have made gifs 😉 (Here’s a video I did to explain this concept: The Meaning of Motion)

Despite doing hundreds of cinemagraphs, I didn’t really like them because I saw that they needed something more. I was using them in the same way as everybody else, so I kept on doing research.

Swaying © A.L. Crego

Requested by Neighborhood Association Zoes Gif © A.L. Crego

Later, I began to focus on gif artists, but REAL gif artists. In gif art, there are so many people doing great things, but the society (as always) prefers watching stupid gifs, or weird things in an eternal loop. On one hand, I must say that the gif format is a prostituted format, but on the other hand, I am happy for this, because the format is the opposite of others. The standard is that something will appear because it is great and brutal and then it is converted into a nonsense product; but with gif art, it’s the opposite—It was born as a marketing tool, and people used it to loop videos and stupid things, and nowadays (I think) it’s living a new life.

The Weight of the World © A.L. Crego

World by Sr. X Gif © A.L. Crego

I connect all of these facts with my personal thoughts about people and the world, and I saw that people liked and “tweeted” things. They don’t read books, they read quotes. They prefer TV series, rather than films. They don’t write, they tweet. And it is the same in almost any kind of art and human expression. I also write poetry, essays, short stories, etc… And I saw also that there are people who read little things on the web, but don’t want to spend time reading a book. I know that all this mind chaos is generated by the brutal flow of information on the web, but I think that we have the duty to stop and think deeply about where we are going.

So I finally decided to begin with the gif format, because I thought it was the best way to get onto the web and try to make people think—using this chaotic, little and fast way of living. Gif art is fast, little and accessible, but at the same time, I try to use these characteristics to create an immersive loop that will get into the mind of the spectator and make them think. Like Visual Mantras.

BS © A.L. Crego

Bullshit by Sr. X Gif © A.L. Crego

CBK: What inspired you to combine gif and street art?
Before I began to take photos and videos I always liked street art, but in a passive way. I only enjoyed seeing it in the street. When I began to take photos, I shot every piece in the street that caught my attention, because I think that street art is a kind of art where the social critique is the main subject. For six years I took photos, but it was only about a year ago that I began to animate them.

During the time I was making “cinemagraphs”, I began to learn animation on my own and one day, looking at my photos, I tried to animate one of them. It was the first time I tried to put graffiti in motion and the result surprised me a lot because it was so remarkable that a photo which was always still, now had a little movement that adds more meaning to the original piece. I think that is the reason for the success of them. We are used to seeing motionless photos and when we see some movement in them, it is like an unexpected surprise.

Eternal Loop © A.L. Crego

Digital Maze by Key Detail Gif © A.L. Crego

When I made this, I thought that it was like animating “the walls of the internet”. In the streets, I can’t make them move, but in the “virtual space” I can give them another meaning. With the street art pieces I feel like I was giving motion “in the streets of the net”.

And if you think deeply and you focus on how the internet works you’ll realize that “street art” is not completely “street art”, because most of the pieces we see of this kind of art, are on the web, so we can call it “web art made in the streets”. When I understood this, the rest was so easy. It was like discovering a new world within another one.

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve by Key Detail Gif © A.L. Crego

CBK: What is your thought process behind each creation?
It depends on what kind of gif I’m making. When I do my own gifs, I just try to make the image about my own thoughts, quotes, poems and any kind of written stuff I have. I imagine a situation where I can loop the meaning of the picture, so you can take your time to understand it. Once I have the “first frame” (the original photo), I began to give meaning to some of the elements of the picture, but most of the time it’s improvisation because I have to watch the loop so many times from the beginning with only one element to the end with many things moving. When I see them, they give me more ideas to add.

Pencil and UFO © A.L. Crego

Original artwork by Sokram Gif © A.L. Crego

When I do gifs from street art, the first thing I do is to deeply study the entire work of the artist I’ve chosen and, of course, I get in touch with them explaining what I will do. Then I choose some of their works and study them carefully. I focus on all of their details and I try to understand the meaning of the piece. When I get the message, I begin to give motion to the elements that I think are what gives meaning to the piece. The same with my own gifs, when I can see some of the elements moving it is like improvising because most of the ideas weren’t in my original mental draft.

Consumption © A.L. Crego

Original artwork by Phlegm Gif © A.L. Crego

CBK: Your art utilizes some serious technical and creative skills, what is the average amount of time it takes to complete one gif?
It depends on which kind of gif. Some gifs are made in a few hours because they were shot on video with the intent on making a gif, other ones are looped, stop motion clips, but the hard ones can takes me a lot of time. Until now the most was about three weeks. When I have to move too many elements, that’s when they take more time because if I start from a photo, I have to create a layer for each thing I want to move (like the street art ones), so the hard work is creating the layers. Then I really like to add some additional layers to add some special effects.

Crowing Bird © A.L. Crego

Original artwork by Roa Gif © A.L. Crego

CBK: What has been the reaction to your art?
I think it is so great, but at the same time I think that this question should be answered by the people who watch it. When I finish a gif, I forget it. I don’t look at my own gifs.

CBK: What can we expect from you in the near future?
I am working hard with the gif format, and I am collaborating with many people and companies (thank you to them). Next week I’m going to Miami to work on some visuals for some DJ’s, so I can say that you can expect the unexpected. It’s a new world. I have just begun. 😉

Spiral © A.L. Crego

Vortex by David de la Mano Gif © A.L. Crego

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