NewHive and GAFFTA are hosting UPLOAD, a party this weekend to celebrate GIFs. The call for artist submissions that resulted in over 600 original GIFs [1] and recent events regarding collecting GIFs [2] highlighted how this 25-year-old file format - the latest version called 89a, meaning 1989a - is still evolving in the way artists, collectors, and viewers make and experience it. In several fundamental ways the GIF is not some kind of souped up JPEG. It has a limit on colors and inefficient encoding, which tend to constrain the type of work to blocky colors and short loops. It has transparency but not translucency, which I explored at [3]. It also stores colors in a way that's non-obvious: instead of storing a color it stores the address of a color. Instead of becoming handicaps these constraints seem to have created a space for art to breathe. GIFs are fun.

This week I wrote a site,, a play on the word steganography (pun credit to @matdryhurst) that explores an aspect of GIFs that seems to have been somewhat popular in the 90s - the ability to encode a hidden message inside the strange color addressing of the GIF. It works with modern HTML5 standards to do everything from decoding the GIF to hiding the message to saving it in the browser. My goal was to explore two ideas: adding notes on my process into the GIFs I created for UPLOAD; and signing my GIFs with RSA public keys.

This website serves as an official reference for the three GIFs above, which are each editions of 3. Inside them are my notes and public keys. I have three corresponding private keys that I can use to verify my ownership of the editions of the files. As an experiment I would be willing to sell one of each of the GIFs and private keys. @xcolwell

3. break out post-GIF