Giphy’s Alex Chung on art hacks, working with friends—and the best street in New York City
Alex Chung is the founder of Giphy, the world’s largest GIF search engine and a ubiquitous meme sharing app that turns cultural references into conversations.
In this episode of the “Ad Block” podcast, Chung talks about the intersection of art, experimentation and technology. At a studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, he and some friends try to hack together interesting (and maybe even useful) projects, like a face-tracking picture of soccer player Lionel Messi that starts playing Spanish lessons every time Chung enters his bathroom. He’s also working on a 3D-mirror setup that uses bullet-time cameras.
“How would you play with this in your hands? How would this come to life as an object?” he asks when coming up with projects. “We spend most of our time in the digital world, and I’ve spent most of my life there, but now I feel like we have the technology to bring it back out into the physical world.”
In the past, he used his own voice-recognition tech, “but Amazon’s Alexa was just so much better,” he says. Unfortunately, the wake word is very similar to his own name, and “‘Okay, Google’ sounds dumb.”
Chung also talks about his favorite street in New York City, the evolution of language and culture and the benefits of working with your friends. “Someone told me a long time ago, ‘Don’t work with your friends,’ and I was like, who do you work with, people you just don’t want to hang out with? Or people that you just don’t dislike?” he says. “If you’re going to spend all day with these people, they should be your best friends.”