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Paul Wong, Year of Gif (2013), video installation. Courtesy of the artist, photographed by Scott Massey.

Paul Wong: Year of Gif

Pixelated colours projected on a wall over 30 metres wide create a backdrop for a spectrum of GIFs.

A GIF is a small-sized, easy-to-share image file short for Graphics Interchange Format. Interested in documenting what he sees around him, Paul Wong amassed a collection of over 300 smartphone GIFs made over the year 2012 that appear in this artwork. Scattered across the UrbanScreen’s colourful façade, these fast-paced, continually changing GIFs flicker like rectangular digital flipbooks.

Year of Gif is also a social network project, with even more of the artist's prolific GIF production available on Tumblr. New GIFs were posted on Year of Gif and Paul Wong Projects Tumblr pages throughout the exhibition.

Paul Wong brings his relationship with the camera, and his practice developed over a period of forty years, to his GIF art. Year of Gif energetically moves through themes of technology, architecture, nature, family, friends, and self-portraits. At one moment, the viewer may simultaneously see GIFs of tube TVs, portapaks, smartphone screen gabs, and RGB colour bars beside details of flowers, clouds from an airplane, art in exhibition spaces, dancing friends, and even the artist in the process of "giffing" a GIF.

Year of Gif is accompanied by an essay by Joni Low, as part of our Surrey Art Gallery Presents series. Joni Low is a Vancouver-based writer and curator who has held position at Vancouver Art Gallery, Long March Space Beijing, and Centre A.

About the Artist

Governor General award winner Paul Wong is an artist and curator. He is recognized for pioneering early video art in Canada, founding several artist-run groups, leading public arts policy, and organizing events, conferences, and public interventions since the 1970s. With a career spanning four decades, he has been instrumental in Canadian contemporary art and the larger art ecology.

Curator: Alison Rajah
Origin of Exhibition: Surrey Art Gallery

Image credit: Paul Wong, Year of Gif, 2013. Photo by Scott Massey.