Collaborative GIF Mosaic: Building a New Inventory

By Marina DiMaio, Digital & Print Assets Coordinator

Howie Tsui’s solo exhibition Retainers of Anarchy has come and gone from the AGGV Galleries, but the artist’s immersive storytelling environments continue to live on in a digital installation on our website — through a Collaborative GIF Mosaic!

Inspired by Tsui’s referential video collage, Threading Needles through the Pupil, previously installed in the exhibition, this Collaborative GIF Mosaic offers the opportunity for artists and anyone from the community to engage with Tsui’s interest in visual sampling, memory and nostalgia which permeate his recent media work.

Step 1: Screen capture a video
Step 2: Trim/edit your video (if needed)
Step 3: Upload your video to, add effects & export your new creation as a GIF file
Step 4: Email your GIFs to mdimaio[at] to see them featured in the Collaborative GIF Mosaic!

Howie Tsui, Retainers of Anarchy, 2017. Algorithmic animation sequence, 5-channel projection, 6-channel audio. Photo: courtesy of the artist and OCAT Xi’an.

For those who saw the exhibition, you already know that the title work was an incredible 25-metre scroll-like video installation that referenced life during the Song dynasty. But did you know that layered within Retainers of Anarchy was the digitization and animation of hundreds of ink drawings? So to a certain extent this large scale visually complex piece shares a lot of similarities with the GIF form. Tsui says, “Retainers of Anarchy is just so maximal and dense, and it is a buildup of imagery that I grew up with and was hoping to reconfigure and compile in this other environment. So I thought a GIF, in a way, is like a nice little micro nugget variant of it.”

Gif Mosaic workshop with Howie Tsui

Learn how to make your GIF by following the few simple steps listed above, or watch back as Tsui walks you through a more thorough video tutorial and shares a bit more about why he started making GIFs in the first place:

“Personally I’ve been using GIFs a lot for fun and just for communication with friends and family, because sometimes I find it’s easier to have a joke that’s a pop culture reference as opposed to typing something. I also find there’s a certain kind of democracy and universality with using images instead of language, because language somehow delineates class or access to education… I think this probably shows in my work. I don’t usually have text or try to get all poetic. Instead I just focus on the power of the image. So with this project…it’s this idea of everyone contributing little nuggets, little snapshots, maybe scenes from their childhood of movies or TV shows that are particularly burnt into the synapses… I was also interested in how Asian people or actors were portrayed in different movies…like in sidekick roles, kind of Orientalized. You know problematic racial stereotype figures, but then on the other hand I’m watching Asian actors in film and TV from Hong Kong and they’re heroic and tough, but everything from the West is exotic and alien and goofy and nerdy. So I kind of purposely juxtapose these together to maybe illustrate that sub-textual level.”

We can’t wait to see what happens when your favorite excerpts from film and TV collide with memories, visual hooks and other impressionable scenes in a kind of collective nostalgic patchwork, because as Nicole Stanbridge, Curator of Engagement, points out, “There are a lot of problematic GIFs out there and so filling that void or filling the inventory… with ones that are reflective of more perspectives or speak to different perspectives is an important piece of this project.”

Feature Image: Retainers of Anarchy: Collaborative Gif Mosaic