INSA Speaks On Ballantine's Scotch Whisky's Space GIF-ITI

Driven by the credo Stay True, Leave An Impression, enigmatic GIF-ITI’ artist INSA has teamed up

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Driven by the credo Stay True, Leave An Impression, enigmatic GIF-ITI’ artist INSA has teamed up wih Ballantine’s Scotch Whisky to create the world’s largest animated GIF in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Equipped with his unique vision and a small team, INSA reinterpreted his own Looking For Love… heart icon in order to push creative boundaries. We sat down with INSA who details the making- of process, the virtues of Staying True and also sheds some light on how GIF­ITI work adds to the larger landscape of contemporary art.

What inspired you to make GIF­ITI?
I’d been thinking a lot about how people were actually seeing my work. Even if I painted a huge mural anywhere in the world, I realised more people were looking at the few photos of it that circulate online. It seemed a shame the level of work that was going into something that was only going to be seen as a small image online, but then I just thought why not make the internet, and those few images, the best way to view my work ­ even make it the only platform for seeing the final work and GIFs are the ultimate for the internet.

How often do you improvise your GIF­ITIs?
Some of them I’d improvise on the spot, but generally I’d have a loose plan in my head before approaching the wall.

To make a GIF­ITI is an intensive process, what’s the biggest challenge?
Sometimes the biggest challenge is five frames in, finding the motivation to paint the same thing again, can be pretty testing, but the excitement for end result keeps me going.

Why did you choose Rio de Janeiro as a place to create the world’s largest animated GIF?
Brazil is a place I always want to see and work in. And when coordinating the satellite for the GIF shots, we needed somewhere that had consistently good weather at the time of year [November] and after some location scouting with the team, it made perfect sense to do this in Rio, it’s such an amazingly beautiful place, I felt inspired having that view as my surroundings while painting.

Who were the people that made up your team for this particular project?
For this project there was the film and production crew who were dealing with capturing the event and coordinating with the satellites, then there was me and my trusty assistant, and a further 20 local painters we brought in to help with the mammoth task of getting the paint on the ground.

How does Ballantine’s ‘Stay True’ series fit with your own work as an artist?
The ‘Stay True’ ethos fits with my approach to work, and I think I’ve pretty much stayed true to doing what I want to do my way since I started painting 15 years ago.

How do you think your GIF­ITI work adds to the larger landscape of contemporary art?
I think it’s very relevant and asks a lot of questions about the disposability of art and how work is seen and enjoyed now. I think it’s trying to move things forward which is essential in any medium. The merging of physical and digital worlds pervades all aspects of our lives; so exploring these boundaries in art is paramount to me. I can imagine that the ‘art’ establishment wouldn’t necessarily be so keen on this new wave of work, but then that is because it can’t be bought and sold by the rich tax­avoiding elite. It can’t be commodified, it exists purely for creativity’s sake in the free eternity of cyber space.

Each step in the process is very detail orientated. How do you deal with mistakes and setbacks?
There isn’t a lot of room for mistakes, so I have to keep my mind pretty sharp when working on one of these paintings. Making sure to track all the changes and remember all the elements, it’s a good mental work out. At the same time set backs are unavoidable sometimes, so there is a need to be flexible to work around problems.

Knowing how you like to keep things elusive, are there ever any hidden messages in your GIF­ITIs?
There are of course underlining conceptual ideas behind most of my work, but they aren’t necessarily hidden messages. My new app allows me to make and produce all sorts of content that is literally hidden…and it’s something i am doing more of.

Now that you’ve created the World’s Largest Animated GIF, what’s next for INSA?

It’s going to be impossible to ever go as ‘big’ as the satellite project, but i have several new concepts for the GIF­ITI that I’m working on and have many new projects yet to be realised.

INSA’s Space GIF-ITI is the third in a series of collaborations between Ballantine’s and creative talent from around the world who incorporate Ballantine’s mantra of ‘Stay True’ in their art, which is inspired by their personal styles, talents and beliefs. INSA began his career as a graffiti writer and went on to become known for his unique patterns and motifs, which have since been displayed around the world, both at street level and in high-profile exhibitions and media, including within London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and Tate Britain.

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