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See How Your GIF Sausage Is Made, In Claymation!

Director Sean Pecknold illustrates the origins of the animated GIF with a short stop-motion film. Perhaps you’ll watch it over and over on a recurring loop.

We’ve seen the arty side of GIFs, the Oxford English Dictionary Online’s word of the year, enough times to recognize its legitimacy. But these recursive moments preserved in amber have been around long before the Kane slow clap. A new video explores the format’s origins, in glorious claymation.

Directed by Sean Pecknold, who’s done some lovely animated music videos, the video traces the roots of the animated GIF all the way back to 1987, when Compuserve released an image format called 87A. Each phase of the technology along the way since then is represented in clever ways that evoke its era. This trip down memory lane takes a detour to visit the famous (and famously creepy) dancing baby before winding up at present day, where we’re treated to the bizarre sight of claymation depictions of various kinds of GIFs, including Laser Cats.

The video was made to help promote the Moving the Still exhibit, taking place in Miami during Art Week this December, presented by Tumblr, SmartWater, and online art hub Paddle8.