This post originally appeared on the Library as Incubator Project in October 2014.

A vaguely creepy project by Kevin Weir, Flux Machine, came across my social media feeds a few weeks ago. The gifs that Kevin creates from historic photos from the Library of Congress put me in mind of Terry Gilliam’s work for Monty Python, compelling the viewer to dig into the digital collections of historic photos and see old images in a new way. Enjoy! ~ Laura

Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Please introduce yourself. Who are you, and what kind of creative work do you do?

Kevin Weir (KW): My name is Kevin Weir, and I’m a designer/animator based in Brooklyn, NY. I work full time as an art director at an ad agency called Droga5 in NYC, and in my spare time I do some animation. I’m not really a great animator, by any means, but I’m learning as I go. I’ve been kind of pleasantly surprised at the attention that my one GIF project, Flux Machine, has been getting. Pretty exciting to have the internet spreading my work around.

Gif created by Kevin Weir.

Gif created by Kevin Weir.

LAIP: What is/has been your relationship to libraries (of any kind, at any point in your life you’d like to talk about!)?

KW: I grew up in upstate NY and was a card-carrying library member of a small library in an adjacent town. In my youth, I used to take out huge stacks of books at a time. Lots of fantasy, science fiction and nature facts/photography. More recently, I’ve found the Library of Congress to be an incredible online resource for the animated works that I make.

LAIP: Your animated gifs, collected at The Flux Machine, are delightfully weird. Can you tell us a bit about the process you go through to create one of those projects? How do you pick the photos to use, for example?

KW: Thanks! I go on the Library of Congress Flickr page and look through hundreds of their recent uploads. I’ll make a few selects just based on what catches my eye, and then I’ll sit with those for a while before choosing one that I want to animate. I typically look for really interesting compositions and characters.

Gif created by Kevin Weir.

Gif created by Kevin Weir.

LAIP: Do you have a recommended gif maker for people looking to make their own gifs? Any how-to’s or instructions you’d recommend checking out?

KW: I use photoshop and after effects. Used to only use photoshop, back when I made everything frame by frame. To learn photoshop, I think you just need to mess around with the program for hours and hours on end. I’m self-taught, so I don’t really know where the good tutorials are there. For after effects, there’s a site called Video Copilot (videocopilot.net) which is an incredible resource for learning the technical parts of the program. Again, though, I wouldn’t consider myself a great animator (yet). I think in general to learn animation you just have to do a lot of it.

 
Gif created by Kevin Weir.

Gif created by Kevin Weir.

 

LAIP: As an art-maker, what would your ideal library look or be like? What would it have in it?

KW: I’ve been thinking that I should really take some books out on animation! I think that as a fledgling animator, everything I do can benefit from learning more about technique. So maybe that.

Also maybe just a book on reptiles or something. With lots of glossy photos. Nature is the best.

See Kevin’s work on his website, http://kevinjweir.com, and explore his animated historic photo collection at The Flux Machine.

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