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Refreshing the Loop

Apr 20, 2023 — Feb 11, 2024

After 35 years, the animated GIF remains prevalent. Following nearly three decades of evolving GIF culture, from their use in bulletin board systems and Netscape 2.0 to online communities like Surf Clubs, Tumblr, and the rise of GIPHY, a new generation of artists are now gaining acclaim for their work within the constraints of a 256-color palette. Newer cohorts are publishing work to networked sales platforms without the same social fabrics that paved the way for them. And, despite the fictions associated with blockchain technology, its alluring promises have undeniably motivated artists in all stages of their careers to release the largest quantity of born-digital artwork of any period. As a result of the surge in production and visibility, a wider audience has come to recognize the GIF as a powerful modality not just for visual culture but also for art.

Works by John Karel, Kate the Cursed, and p1xelfool have rapidly proven influential on GIF culture in the contemporary era alongside already recognized artists such as Pastiche Lumumba, Francois Gamma, and Petra Cortright. 

Refreshing the Loop continues Museum of the Moving Image’s tradition of displaying GIFs in our passenger elevator. This new iteration places artists who have been widely known for their GIFs for more than two decades in conversation with selected artists who have gained notable popularity in the last few years, as media art has continued to gain momentum towards mass adoption. These three pairings place the artists’ practice and catalogue of works in dialogue, comparing and contrasting their experiences with the file format and the evolving communities that have developed around it. The artists are also involved in the curatorial process, choosing a selection of works from one another that resonates with them personally. Each artwork, along with recorded discussions between the paired artists, will be on view in the passenger elevator, online, and at for three months at a time.

Organized by Regina Harsanyi, Associate Curator of Media Arts  

Refreshing the Loop is made possible by support from GIPHY Arts.


April 21–July 23, 2023 
Francoise Gamma and p1xelfool 

Francoise Gamma is an artist based in Barcelona who primarily uses obsolete tools to create his work. Gamma has worked professionally on the internet since 1995. He is a member of the online art collective Computers Club and has been one of the most prominent creators of GIF artwork across the web, beginning as early as in 2001. Bipedal bodies created with single-pixel lines have been an active, consistent area of his work. Gamma’s work has been featured internationally in group exhibitions at the Tate Modern in London, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, BOZAR in Belgium, and the Museo Sourmaya in Mexico City, and a solo exhibition at American Fantasy Classics. 

p1xelfool is a Brazilian artist exploring the perception of time and phenomena through code-based generative art. He explores conversations between machines and humans and raises questions about the limits of organic and synthetic entities. Known for the intricacy and minimalism of their thick pixels, vivid colors, and black backgrounds, p1xelfool ‘s GIFs have received worldwide attention, including from some of the most prominent artists and collectors. His works are conceptualized with Processing, an open-source and community-led creative coding software. His pixelated worlds have been shown at Art Basel in Miami, Public Records in New York, and curated by Casey REAS for Feral File.  

Watch a video conversation between Francoise Gamma and p1xelfool and view their GIFs here.


July 28–October 8, 2023: 
Pastiche Lumumba and Kate the Cursed 

Pastiche Lumumba is a multidisciplinary artist whose work examines cultural conventions and normalized power dynamics within the contexts of masculinity and Blackness. He has exhibited internationally as well as on the internet and his work has been featured in publications such as Art Papers, Mask Magazine, and Rhizome. Lumumba is the founder of The LOW Museum of Contemporary Culture in Atlanta, where he served as director and chief curator from 2013 to 2016. He currently lives and works in New York. 

Katherina Jesek aka “Kate the Cursed” is a media artist and producer from New York. Her artwork since 2021 focuses on authentic, outdated display technology and draws inspiration from cyberpunk aesthetics. She has been exhibited for Frieze, Los Angeles, SuperRare, Miami Art Week, and the Queer Museum of Digital Art.

Watch a video conversation between Pastiche Lumumba and Kate the Cursed and view their GIFs here.


October 20, 2023–January 2024: 
Petra Cortright and John Karel 

Petra Cortright is an L.A.-based artist producing work in both tangible and digital environments. An early series of webcam self-portrait videos using filters and effects long before smartphones made them ubiquitous established Cortright as a key figure in the post-internet art movement. Cortright produces paintings, sculptures, and video installations alongside natively digital work, such as GIFs. Cortright’s solo exhibitions include New York’s Team Gallery and Foxy Production, the Galeria Duarte Sequeira in Braga, Portugal, L.A.’s 1301PE and Depart Foundation, Ever Gold [Projects] in San Francisco, Société in Berlin, and Nahmad Projects in London. Cortright has been included in group exhibitions at the Walker Art Center; MCA Chicago; Whitechapel Gallery; MALBA; Frieze Film at Frieze London, the 12th Venice Biennale de Lyon, France; and the Venice Venice Biennale. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York); the Péréz Museum (Miami), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), the Stedelijk Museum (Breda and Amsterdam, Netherlands), the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, BAMPFA (Berkeley), the San Jose Museum of Art, MOCA Los Angeles, and Rhizome’s Net Art Anthology (New York).  

John Karel is an artist, computer animator, and illustrator best known for creating thousands of low-res, low-poly GIF art depicting skeletons and everyday consumer objects. He studied at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and previously worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Karel has produced animations for projects like Super Deluxe and is one of the most recognized, collected, and beloved artists involved in the Tezos ecosystem.  

Watch a video conversation between Petra Cortright and John Karel and view their GIFs here.