GIFs in general comprise single looped images, but fans often create more complex GIF sets, which are “sets of images, sometimes animated, sometimes not, arranged in a grid of sorts to communicate as a whole” that have “evolved primarily on Tumblr, where the interface allows for easy juxtaposition of multiple animated or still gifs” (Stein 2016). The dominance of this use of GIFs and GIF sets on Tumblr takes narrative moments out of time and out of their place in a narrative. They are instead replayed and looped in ways that can change meaning or render visible moments that were hidden until images or sequences were slowed down and reworked in the GIF format. Tumblr’s modes of reblogging and the infinite scroll means that the constant repeat viewing of the same content can be therapeutic as a result of the physical act of repetition. Such viewing works to assuage fannish anxieties, helping fans cope.
Williams, Rebecca. 2018. “Tumblr’s GIF Culture and the Infinite Image: Lone Fandom, Ruptures, and Working Through on a Microblogging Platform.” In “Tumblr and Fandom,” edited by Lori Morimoto and Louisa Ellen Stein, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 27.