Got some good feedback on the GIF theory, but mostly concerning frame-grab GIFs post. (Let me know if you want attribution for these):
comment 1 There are a lot of artists on Tumblr or wherever else (u dont have to call em artists if u dont want) that are doing original animation GIFs either from drawings made in the computer or entirely created on their own 3D/more photoshop illustrator work. I think there is a whole category of ppl who r making GIFs between what u call an art gif and 'they' call art gifs. It's basically ppl who are just animators, they have tools to animate images and instead of using found imagery they are making their own and animating it, it may not be gritty or low res but it's not remix culture or just some grab of someone elses video.
Also, I've decided i like cinemagraphs, not as art objects or anything but just for their technical proficiency. It is an interesting technique and format, ppl are just using it horribly wrong and discussing it in awful ways and calling them dumb names instead of just GIFs lol.
reply: I had to put down a territorial marker for "my" notion of an art GIF -- likely the more high-res work you're describing would be mentioned, too, if we could first wrestle Rhizome and the other theorists away from "GIF = frame grab GIF."
I think cinemagraphs are fine for comedy -- I haven't seen a non-silly use of it because the whole premise is still a "beautiful" photo with a moving element.
comment 2: i don't think your analogy works, popularity and fetishism are two different things - gifs have always been part of the popular online fabric but now they're fetishized by complete hacks as a marketing/advertorial touchpoint
reply: my musician neighbor across the street said "you were really ahead of this gif thing" -- pink floyd before and after Dark Side is a GREAT analogy. GIFs are fetishized by hacks as a marketing/advertorial touchpoint because they are perceived to be popular, whereas five years ago those same hacks didn't know from GIFs.
comment 3: maybe I need to read more about GIF cause idgi or maybe should just retire lol
reply: GIFs with celebrities and movie references are easier for theorists as well as consumers