GIFs fulfill an important role in the pop-culture eco-system, allowing us to communicate clearly even if we’re, say, so utterly gobsmacked that all we can do is repeatedly blink, or just need to capture our feelings in the form of a triumphantly dancing Michelle Obama. But where do they come from?
That’s the focus of a new Twitter project from filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry, who’s compiled a new thread he’s calling #GIFHistory, tracking down the source for a number of the internet’s most popular reaction images. Covering a wide variety of topics and emotions, these can range from moments taken from the late, lamented Vine, all the way back to the ’70s film work of Robert Redford.
Given how often we all resort to memes when words fail us (or we’re honestly just too lazy to use them), it’s nice to have a little background on their origins. If nothing else, it’s a good reminder that our personal favorite, that confident guy who’s always tapping his temple, has a real name: actor Kayode Ewumi, from the web series Hood Documentary.