Bill Domonkos is an artist, film maker and stereoscopist who uses archival film footage and stills to create thought-provoking GIFs. Making the past and future collide with his clever juxtapositions, Domonkos explores dreamlike notions of time, and blurs the line between conscious and subconscious thought. We caught up with Bill for an insight into his mesmerizing work.
How did you find your way to making GIF art?
The first GIF I made was back in the 1990’s. I was designing my first personal website and I wanted to include some animation. At that time a GIF was the perfect way to do it. In those days the bandwidth was very limited and the file sizes needed to be tiny. So my first GIF was a tiny, 8 bit eye ball.
Image: Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora. Circular Wave Anim by SoylentGreen.
Eventually I started making short, ambient videos that would play in a continuous loop. It wasn’t until much later in 2011 that I started experimenting with the GIF as a medium to present the ideas that I was expressing in my short films.
What is the process of creating one of your GIFs?
There is an element of play in my process that is essential. Sometimes I have a preconceived idea of what I want and I search for the media to support it. Sometimes the idea comes from a film clip or image. Most of the time the source material works as a springboard towards something new and unexpected.
Technically, I do everything in Adobe After Effects which allows me to composite multiple layers of animation, film footage, photographs and visual effects.
What subjects or issues do you like to address with your work?
It’s the idea of altering the past with the present that interests me. The GIFs are like fragments of time, like memories that hover somewhere between the past and future.
My work certainly owes much to Dada and surrealism. I think the subconscious thoughts in dreams can prove more powerful and genuine than any conscious thought.
Photo: Costică Acsinte. Animation by Bill Domonkos.
Is there a certain feeling or thought you like to provoke within your viewer?
The GIFs have a unique potential to suspend time and compact feelings and experience. They seem to exist within a specious present. I think ambiguity in itself is art. I get a lot of enjoyment out of works of art I don’t fully understand.
Archive Film Footage from the Prelinger Archives. Animation by Bill Domonkos.
Who or what inspires you?
The public domain provides me with all of the inspiration I could ever want.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“Question Everything. Learn Something. Answer Nothing.” – Euripides
What is your greatest dream as an artist?
To pay my rent next month.
Photo by Richard Parks from the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Animation by Bill Domonkos.
See more of Bill’s work at billdomonkos.tumblr.com