Sam Cannon Sensual, unnerving GIFs that blur the line between tool and art


You might get a slightly uncanny feeling when you look at Sam Cannon’s work. And let’s be honest; for your average gif, they are kind of freaky. But they’re also wonderfully crafted little gems, and there’s more to them than meets the eye…

With all its surreal elements, every piece in Sam’s collection takes you by surprise . For example, her work features four lost pairs of legs exploring its sandy surroundings. The way they’re positioned makes you wonder if they belong to a real human body. Or her animations show a girl lying in a chair, looking up with a hazy gaze. She doesn’t have two, but seven eyes adorning her face.

When Sam couldn’t choose between photography or video as preferred medium during her study at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, she decided to become a gif artist. This background is clearly represented in her imagery; the foundation of her animations lays in photos. From shooting her subjects to developing the subtle movements, she makes everything herself.

With her work she wants to comment on the overload of information that’s inherent to our digital age. “I am interested in how we consume the vast amounts of images we are presented each day,” she explains.

For Sam, another interesting aspect is that you can make an infinite amount of replicas of digital pieces. You can copy-paste and customize files as much as you like, leaving no originals, but only fractured versions everywhere. This is wildly different from a classic oil painting hanging in a museum, where you’d want to go and see the original thing.

This makes that some people question gifs as a true art form. But as with every new discipline, it still needs to find its place in the scene. Sam is fully aware of these discussions, but lets the limitations of the medium inspire her. “I think gifs are an amazing way to visually express a feeling, and therefore have become this popular tool for communication. Like traditional photography, they blur the line between tool and art.”