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Making a real-life animated GIF of Radiohead artist Stanley Donwood's apocalyptic album art

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Hollywood Dooom Mural
Hollywood Dooom Mural

When Atoms for Peace — a collaboration between Thom Yorke (of Radiohead), Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and other musicians — announced its first album earlier this week, it unveiled a stark, black-and-white vision of a sinking and burning Los Angeles on its site. Now, that image has taken a curious journey. Stanley Donwood, who created the piece earlier this year and has worked with Radiohead and Yorke for the past two decades, collaborated with artist Insa to turn it into a series of murals, painted one after another onto label XL Recordings' Los Angeles Office. Each mural was photographed before being painted over, and the final series became what Insa calls "gif-itti": an exaggerated version of street art's life cycle, with each piece quickly painted over and turned into an animated GIF. Here's one section of the building; you can see more at XL Recordings' site.


Donwood says his piece is meant to communicate the impending downfall of our "energy rich and culturally complacent society... There is no future; we have evicted ourselves from our own cities, rendered our agriculture poisonous, criminalised the poor, aggrandized the rich, honoured the stupid and ridiculed the intelligent," he says. "The apocalypse is already here, and the saddest thing is that we're trying to fool ourselves that it isn't happening." Insa, meanwhile, has used the mural-to-GIF technique before, perfecting an arduous, multi-day process for the sake of a few stunning frames of Tumblr fodder. The video below shows how he created a similar piece in 2011. "As a continuous GIF it may only live online," he says, "but some would argue that is where most now live their lives."