ANIMAFEST PRO | ANIMAFEST SCANNER V | ANIMAFEST SCANNER V - Panel 4: Animation at Large
The Mesmerizing Loop: The Rare Case of Tom Winkler’s Animated GIFs – Francisco Ortega-Grimaldo (Texas Tech University, Lubbock, USA)
Today it seems common to receive animated GIFs with racy subjects in the form of icons or memes. In the age of the internet or dot.com bubble (1997-2001)—a period of exponential growth in the usage and adaptation of the Internet by businesses and consumers—it was an anomaly. doodie.com was one of the most popular websites that, at that time, offered controversial animated GIFs. Created by animator Tom Winkler, this site was visited monthly by 8million of loyal fans and curious newcomers from around the world. What captured the attention of the public was Winkler’s simplified characters interacting with excrement in a myriad of ways.
As a case study, doodie.com reflects the spirit of the new media of the time: freedom, complete control of the form and content by the creator, and an unapologetic attitude. Winkler once commented that “You don’t have to ask permission to do anything on the Internet… It truly is a new frontier.” Flash—then a new animation digital tool specifically designed for the creation of visual web content—allowed Winkler to produce a constant stream of GIFs. In the tradition of artists associated with Fox animation television (he originally worked on The Simpsons and The Critic) he pushed the envelope in both subject and visuals, taking the site to one of the farthest extremes in scatological comedy.
By contextualizing doodie.com at the time of the internet bubble, this paper illuminates a little-studied chapter in the history of animation by placing the light format of the GIF file as the central piece that allowed fans the dissemination of these transgressive animations.
Francisco Ortega-Grimaldo is an Associate Professor in Graphic Design and Coordinator of the PhD Fine Arts program at the School of Art, Texas Tech University (TTU). He earned his undergraduate degrees and MA at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and his PhD in Critical Studies and Artistic Practice at TTU (2008). As a practicing artist and scholar, he is interested in Historical and Critical Perspectives in Animation, Game Design Theory and History, Graphic Design, and Interdisciplinarity in the Arts. He collaborates with Jorgelina Orfila in the interactions between animation and contemporary art.