As New York goes to the polls in the 2016 presidential primaries, TIME commissioned photographers and artists Alex Thebez, Marisa Gertz and Peter Marquez to document the voting process using GIFs. The three of them form GIFRIENDS, a team that produces visual projects combining stills and moving images.
Olivier Laurent: What’s your technical process? How are you producing these GIFs on the go?
Gifriends: As we speak, Peter and Marisa are on the ground, photographing and making videos while Alex is stationed in front of the computer at the studio, compiling all the materials. It’s a whole operation.
Olivier Laurent: What’s the mood on the street among the people you’re meeting?
Gifriends: There are a ton of Hillary and Bernie volunteers out today who are very enthusiastically handing out fliers, helping people find their nearest polling station and talking about why they love their candidate. It probably doesn’t hurt that the weather is nice finally!
Olivier Laurent:How are people reacting to what you’re doing?
Gifriends: Reactions to us seem split 50/50 between people who are wearing their opinions on their sleeve, sometimes literally, and people who want to keep to themselves. We’ve had people actually come up to us, when they see that we’re shooting, to talk—while some that we’ve approached responded with “That’s personal!”
Olivier Laurent: How did Gifriends start?
Gifriends: Marisa, Peter and Alex went to Parsons [School of Design] together. An old childhood friend of Peter’s, Michael Fivis, brought us together by introducing us to the GIF community on Tumblr. We started making things together, and it just went from there.
Olivier Laurent: Why GIFs? What do they offer that you don’t get with “normal” photographs?
Gifriends: GIFs are a way of experiencing a moment that can be both immediate and meditative. Peter and Alex come from a film school background, so they always had an affinity for moving images; this continued even when they were studying photography. GIFs are definitely a format that allows us to combine our interests in both still and moving images into one package. Above all, I think what drew us to GIFs is our love for the Internet. We see the browser as a blank canvas that allows us to use multiple mediums in a fluid way. Specifically, GIFs are a format that can only exist within the browser, so making GIFs is how we repetitively profess our love for the world wide web.
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