Most people will have come across animated GIFs on the internet — a series of photographs brought to life in a animation lasting a few seconds. They can be funny, inventive or even poignant, but are they a new art form or just a gimmick?
It seems a tough sell to consider ‘motion photography’ as fine art, but the Saatchi Gallery and Google+ have teamed up to create an art prize for this genre. It’s no surprise that these two organisations are partners in this venture as Saatchi Gallery is always looking to be at the vanguard of the ‘next big thing’ in art and Google has just come up with its own program for creating these animations; but are they on to something?
Many of the works do feel more like something quickly concocted on a phone rather than a thoughtful piece of art, but there is a graceful fluidity to Christina Rinaldi’s winning entry of a window cleaner at work. The six finalists on display wouldn’t have been our top choices but thankfully three smaller screens at the back of the gallery loop the other 54 shortlisted works.
In these screens there are some real gems to be found and our conclusion is that subtlety is where the true power of this medium lies. A carousel spins while the park behind it remains static and water flowing is the only movement in one corner of another work. Our favourite by Marie Edwards features a silhouette of a woman leaning against a lamppost on a dark road and the only motion is the condensation of her breath in the cold air. Its subtlety reminded us of the video works of Rob and Nick Carter, where it’s unclear whether they are videos at all.
Despite some impressive entries, we’re not yet convinced that motion photography is on a par with other art media, and we’re certain others will be more damning of these works. But it’s great to throw down a challenge to the preconceived notions of what is art, and we like how this exhibition asks us to question where the boundaries lie.
The Motion Photography Prize is on display on the top floor of Saatchi Gallery, King’s Road, SW3 4RY until 24 May. Also still on at Saatchi Gallery is the impressive Pangaea and new British art in New Order II.