Skip Dolphin Hursh works as a designer and animator for Nickelodeon in New York. Skip uses his free time to create personal work that includes handsomely designed looping animated GIFs that invoke thoughts of toy machinery and strange cellular activity. He explains more about how he arrived at this ongoing project in an interview with Giphy.
He posts his looping animation on Tumblr. It’s fascinating to look at the archive and compare the “notes” count on each GIF. Curiously, some GIFs have 9,000 to 12,000 notes (which in Tumblr language, means either a comment, re-blog or ‘like’), while others have under a hundred notes. What makes one loop more appealing by such a factor over others when the content of each is so similar? My initial theory was that people were responding to the loops that look like they include eyes and faces, based on the idea that people like to look at faces and find faces in abstract designs, such as this example with 12,000-plus notes:
But that theory was proven wrong when I saw this purely abstract shape GIF with 9,000-plus notes:
The way Tumblr is used by many users is likely a factor. Many users will see an image they like and “like” it or re-blog it, without digging deeper into the original source. If an image gains a critical mass of re-blogs, it can become much more popular than another image from the same blog by many times over. See more work from Skip including non-looping images on his portfolio website.