Getting the Gif of Things~

Hello~

While scouring the Internet for cool gifs, I came across an interesting discussion about gifs, remix, and contemporary Internet culture.

How GIFs Became Embedded in Our Culture

The discussion is occurs during an episode of a podcast and occurs between Anil Dash (Function podcast commentator), Kenyatta Cheese (CEO of Everybody At Once & co-founder of Know Your Meme), and T. Kyle McMahon (lead digital and social producer from Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen) This podcast episode covers a wide variety of concerns, from the personal impact of the medium to how it has changed discourse in online spaces. More, this discussion seems to focus on how our culture in digital spaces has been totally changed by the onset of new media like gifs and memes.

I found their discussion on how intermediary platforms such as Youtube and Giphy are shaping and curating culture to be particularly interesting. Personally, because of the convenience of sites like Giphy, I do find myself overlooking the greater implications of their existence. Rather than creating a gif to demonstrate, visually, my own excitement, now I can just type the word “excitement” into Giphy or Twitter’s Tenor keyboard and find a plethora of images that the system has decided represent excitement. It’s a really peculiar shift and I’m not quite sure what it says about the direction our culture is shifting in but it appears we’re moving from remixing (active interaction) to recycling (passive interaction).

But, what do you think?

nightmarebeforechristmas1

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I think this is a great resource to have in our field guide as it addresses both the affordances of the gif medium as well as the anxieties surrounding its dissemination in online spaces. 8/10 ^.^

~Till next time~

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Lost in Translation???

Hey~

DDA 304 asked us to play around with the powers (or lack thereof) of translation. We were asked to select a few paragraphs from one of our sources exploring the darkness of the web and translate it (using Google Translate) from English into a few different languages before, eventually, translating it back into English to see if it still makes sense. Essentially, this activity is an exploration of nonsense and the limits of language (my fave topics ^.^).

Anyway, I chose to play around with the first few paragraphs from this article about an art exhibition on memes. (Very interesting content, btw). This is the original passage I chose to translate:

If you’ve ever spent hours laughing at memes on the internet, you don’t have to feel bad about falling into an internet vortex of Willy Wonka’s face or a frog on a bike. Memes are in fact art – or at least according to one curator, who has made an exhibition around the eclectic internet culture.

What Do You Meme? will be at Holdron’s Arcade in Peckham this week, with the exhibition’s curator, Maisie Post, suggesting that they are the most democratic art form that we have.

Despite being dismissed as a lowbrow, the exhibition suggests that memes have much in common with folk movements that are created collaboratively for a collective to enjoy rather than profit from. However, their ability to reach global audiences makes them even more influential, as they evolve through different internet users and are absorbed into politics and the media.

If you’re left wondering ‘what is the meme-ing of this?’ (yes, it’s pronounced ‘meem’), Maisie Post explains than an internet meme is “simply an image, usually photoshopped, with added text that is often humourous, or relatable. This is then shared, and reiterated across social media platforms.”

My journey of translation is as follows: English>>>Russian>>>Czech>>>Welsh>>>Irish>>>Ukrainian>>>English

Here’s the final result:

If you sometimes laugh with memos on the Internet, you should not be bad when you’re at Villa Wonka or on a bicycle when you come to the Internet. In fact, art is a meme – or at least one custodian who was exhibited around an eclectic web culture.

What do you mean? This week we will be on the arcade Hold’ond in Beijing, as well as the curator of Maisie Post, if this is our most democratic form of art.

Despite the fact that the exhibition is incomprehensible, it is assumed that the memes are very common with common movements, so that the team can enjoy them and not win. However, their ability to reach a global audience makes them more influential as they develop through various Internet users and when they are taken by politics and the media.

What do you think it means? (yes, this is called “mem”), explains Macy Post, just before a photo on the Internet, with photoshop usually with additional text that is funny or often related. it is transmitted and repeated in social networks. “

I think the result is interesting. I bolded some of my fave lines. Some of the thoughts do make sense, though, which is very interesting. Much is said about what is lost in translation but what about what is gained? I think this exercise provides a new perspective on language and on the nature of nonsense in a linguistic sense.

Very informative ^.^

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~Till next time~

Net Art & Self-Representation~

Hey ^.^ welcome back to my dark little corner of the web~

So, this week we explored the wonderful and burgeoning world of net art.

This is “born-digital” art that is created for and designed to be experienced online in a digital environment. That digital component is what delineates this kind of art from trad art. In many ways, this kind of art is liberated from the exhibition context of the museum in that the Internet becomes its gallery space. Of course, this creates some concerns over accessibility and privilege, which I have discussed before, but I would like to focus more on some of the interesting ideas being explored in net art projects in this post.

Particularly, I’m interested in how much of net art is exploring the presentation and representation of self in this digital age. In my bonus post this week, I discuss some projects like MouchetteBODY ANXIETY, and Emilio Vavarella’s (@emiliovavarellaDigital Skins series which each explore different facets of self in creatively digital ways. What is most interesting to me about pieces that explore how digitization has affected self-representation and its aesthetics is the prismatic depictions so often utilized to convey a sense of the multi-dimensional. In her essay “Stories of the Self on and off the Screen“, Dr. Ruth Page discusses the fragmentary nature of self in the twenty-first century and how emerging digital mediums like Eliterature (which is arguably both literature and net art) are in a position to convey that “partiality”. Page emphasizes how the transmediality and multimodality of digital mediums allows for new narrative structures which are often non-linear. This non-linearity often mirrors real-world experiences of life. It’s interesting that digital mediums can, in some ways, provide more “realistic” representations of the experience self than trad formats. Neither is “better”, just different. Digitization has, in many ways, allowed for a diversity of perspective that can really be engaged with. Eliterature and net art really allow for a new perspective to become a whole experience.

I find these capabilities to be fascinating yet often overlooked. In class, we spoke of the “aura” of art and how digital/net art is often dismissed or placed second to trad/classical art because it is viewed as lacking some kind of “aura” that makes it “true art” (whatever the f*ck that means). I find this to be a rather pretentious view on art. The idea that a work of art must be a physical thing viewed in a museum in order for it to be considered of artistic merit/worthy of transcendent thinking is rather limiting, to say the least. Also, it makes me wonder who is art for? If it must be viewed in a museum or through some kind of institutional authority, this indicates to me that art is only for a select few and that people outside this select few are somehow incapable of properly appreciating it. i think there’s an elitist, perhaps imperialist hold-out, attitude here. Because net art is, in many ways, more democratized than other art forms and more accessible in that the threshold for participation in creating it is still rather low (basically have access to a computer), I think it receives unnecessary criticism from the art world and the “peanut gallery”. Somehow, because of digital intervention and the perception that digital mediums are somehow inherently imbued with less meaning, net art is viewed as lesser than. Which is very sad considering how many really creative initiatives and works are being created using this technology (as mentioned above).

In our studio visit with digital artist Alex Saum (@alexsaum) this week, we talked a little about the depth of meaning that can be captured in a digital work. For example, her E-Poetry collections explore issues of self, identity, and self-representation in the digital age in very multimodal, visceral ways. The performance of self online becomes her art, reflection on these mediums her practice. Art, life, and the digital are all in dialogue with each other in her works. Both the positive ways in which digital media allows us to extend ourselves and the negative ways digitization curtails authenticity online are explored in Saum’s work. These complex ideas and their intersections culminate in these beautiful and movies works of digital poetry. Her work really allows for a prismatic view of self and allow for reflection upon current practices of the presentation of self in online spaces. For example, in Saum’s poem “Ashes to Ashes #YOLO” (2018), the question “Where are the people?” is looped over a video of Saum filmed in the style of Youtube confessionals. This poem seems to be making a statement on the commodification of self in the twenty-first century and how self has become more of a product and a performance online than an actual lived experience. The confession here is that rather than online spaces allowing us to be more real, they are allowing us to less authentically ourselves.

“The Democratic Value of Art Making” is one of my fave poems from the #SELFIEPOETRY collection. “We can’t all be poets but well all have literary value.” is such a f*ck you to the establishment and the institutions believe art and creative practices only have value if they’re profitable. More, it’s a f*ck you to the whole concept that you must have market value in order for you to be valuable. It’s a f*ck you to capitalism. Net art is such a f*ck you to capitalism~

This is an interesting concept proposed in not only Saum’s work but in Vavarella’s work and the work of many other digital artists. As states before, online spaces were supposed to democratize information, self-expression, and many other ideals. But, instead, they seem to have become these places where we can be anyone but ourselves, we can tell anything but the truth. Saum’s work seems to be connecting this bastardized democracy online to consumerism and the commodification of online spaces. Especially in the US, the digital world is fast becoming a for-profit enterprise which infringes upon the ideals of community and equity and the free-exchange of ideas that the Internet, for most of us, was founded upon. I view Saum’s work as spreading awareness of this but also as a kind of protest in that in the process of reflecting upon the practice of growing in-authenticity online, Saum is revealing truths about herself and her values which resonates with many of us. I think a lot of are against the commodification of online spaces and the rise of “influencers”, of personalities/personages for profit. Everything else in the world is already so commoditized and we are so consumed by it. I think we all want a space where we can explore ourselves for our own sakes.

In this way, a lot of digital art and net art is commentary on consumer culture and the contemporary digital practice that is being sold to us. Some of it seems even to be a protest, a reassertion that we don’t have to be these fake people online, that the digital does not have to be associated with the fake. I think this is important work artist like Saum are doing. Even is Saum herself doesn’t necessarily see herself in her work (“Works of art are always representations. They aren’t me.”) , her commentary on self-representation and its shortcomings is valuable in that it reminds us we can be real online if we want but we don’t have to be who we are online either. What is important is that we still hold onto a sense of self in this social media deluge and that we don’t let anyone decide our value for us. The hustle some influencers have though is fascinating, their ability to make a brand of themselves demonstrative of some admirable ingenuity and creativity even if I have some ethical disagreements with the franchise.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed perusing my thoughts on the matter. If you want to hear me scream more about self-representation in the digital age, be sure to check out my thesis blog~

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Field Guide Contribution

As mentioned, be sure to check out my bonus post on different works of net art. I curated a small collection of works that focus on self-representation of many different kinds.

Daily Digital Alchemies

For one of my DDAs this week, I provided a small glimpse into a world without words and speculated about what the descent of that kind of nonsense would do to humanity. I hope you enjoy a taste of my dark, twisted sense of writing. I prefer to write darker, more nihilistic tales with tragic or unapologetically cruel characters ^.^ This kind of writing is more engaging and interesting to me~

For my other DDA, I came up with a taxonomy of sorts for a digital moth. Apparently, its Latin name translates to “skiing schoolgirl” so I played with that. I also sent out a request for a moth of my own but I’ve yet to hear back and, also, I hear the generator may be broken? Anyway, I tried~

Extras

In case you didn’t see this thread in #netnarr, @ronald_2008 and @dogtrax remixed my Twitter photo in some very cool ways.

And I returned the favor:

Both @dogtrax and I remixed our images using Lunapic. I suggested a DDA using the tool (which I hope goes over better than my other suggested DDA for creating a Cyper Punk name which was never published so idk I can only make suggestions~).

Also, I shared this interesting video on how the “meme-ification” of celebrity personage affects our own reality. I think it ties in rather well with our discussion around memes, net art, and self-representation in the digital age.

~Till next time~

Exploring Net Art~

Hello~

This week, we’ve begun to explore the emerging and fascinating world of Net Art. In order to help familiarize us with more of the purview of this field, we were asked to explore the works of different artists and collectives. (Heck yeah!)

I chose to explore the net art works of three very different people(?). Each work drew me to it for varied reasons. Mostly, I’m interested in how online spaces intersect with practices of identity construction so I gravitated towards works that explore that subject matter.

The first artist who’s work I looked at is one I am familiar with: Emilio Vavarella. For my thesis, I have explored some of his work. Of particular interest to me is his Digital Skins series. In this collection, Vavarella experiments with the manipulation of the human form in digital spaces. The purpose of this project seems to be exploratory. Vavarella seems interested in how digital spaces affect/challenge the boundaries of self and what is considered to be part of self. Interestingly, Vavarella also touches upon the idea of the skinwalker which is a creature from Navajo lore who was believed to be able to project themselves into your body and become you by just making eye contact. This ancient idea of identity theft is interesting to contrast against contemporary instances of the act which, also, often involve minimal contact with you but can have life-altering affects.

Of the importance of this project, Vavarella states, “In today’s network society, bodies have left that organic condition and are characterized by transient statuses: individuals have become di-viduals, data aggregates, samples, signals. The last boundary between us and the world, our skin, has become a transient membrane that changes along with the trans- and meta- human forms under it. The space that was occupied by the skinwalkers of the past has been taken over by infinite reconfigurations and mediations. What remains the same is that to be human still means to constantly shift through generative metamorphosis, corruptions, and de-generations that escape any clear categorization.”

I give this series a 10/10 and definitely recommend checking it out. I think it asks us to consider our evolving place in digital spaces and how digital spaces are changing our perceptions of self and what constitutes as self.

Toshiaki-2-PRINT-comp-e1454433469758 (evavarella)

 

Another work I explored is MouchetteTo me, this work really toes the line between art and Elit. I was interested in this work because it was described as a piece that explores issues of identity online. According to its entry in the Net Art Anthology, this is an interactive work that explores the fictional life of a young girl who is morbidly fascinated with topics such as suicide and death. (This work is inspired by a Robert Bresson film of the same name–which was based upon a Georges Bernanos book–in which a young teenage girl does commit suicide after a life of tragedy.) In this piece, you can respond to inquiries made by Mouchette (which means “little fly” in French) and kind of follow her oddly naive yet surprisingly serious thoughts. The text is often accompanied by grainy, provocative images that, at times, contrast with the textual content.

Honestly, I find the work to be morbidly fascinating in the same way that Jason Nelson’s This is how you will die is fascinating. As Mouchette precedes Nelson’s work, I wonder if any inspiration was drawn from it? That said, I do recognize that this work could be a little disturbing or triggering for some people (especially the feature where you suggest the best way for a 13 year old girl to commit suicide). I think being provocative and “edgy” is only part of the work’s purpose, though. More, I think the work is meant to be a reflective piece, one in which we can explore the darker parts of ourselves and our culture in order to better ourselves and our world. The digital aspect of the world seems also to ask us to consider how digitization affects the ways we relate to ourselves and our world.

I’m going to give this work an 8/10 because I feel like it really provides a meaningful experience in which users actively participate with others in the processes of identity construction.

2019-03-22 (3)

The last net art work I reviewed this week is the BODY ANXIETY project. I chose to review this work because the prescription of its purposes reminded me of the intent of the Guerrilla Girls collective. Essentially, both seek to challenge the male gaze of the world and, particularly, the male gaze of the female experience and the worth of that experience. The net art project seeks to accomplish this through female artists employing video and other digital mediums to capture their experiences and share them online. This project seems to be about changing the narrative around female identity in public spaces and, more, about reclaiming that identity by utilizing new spaces for diverse voices provided by the Internet. It’s about reframing female identity.

As a female-identifying person myself, I found this collective to be very powerful and inspiring. The featured approaches to gender expression are all so different and powerful in their own ways. I found May Waver’s contribution to be particularly compelling to me. The “glitchy” kind of replication she uses to distort her images reminds me of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe prints. I think Waver’s work, in some ways, re-imagines the mass production and commodification of the female experience in the digital age. It’s just a constant bombardment. The female form is used as an advertising tool so often we’re numb to it. Waver’s work explores how that affects our perspective on ourselves in our daily lives.

I give this collective a 9/10 because I think it provides an excellent lens on what the female experience is in the digital age. I think it’s focus on reasserting and a reclaiming a sense of sense from the so often toxic miasma of contemporary digital life is incredibly important.

For comparison

Some pictures of Guerrilla Girls work from my latest visit to the Brooklyn Museum of art.

I hope you enjoyed my perspective on these works and decide to check some of these pieces out for yourselves! Net art is definitely expanding what it means to not only create in the digital age but it means to be at this moment in time.

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~Till next time~

But What Does it All Really Meme????

Well, well, well…

If I’m not back at it again discussing memes. Have I ever left the conversation???

Making Meme-ing Okay I’ll stop

So, you may have guessed it already, but this week’s class topic was memes. We spent most of class discussing what memes are, what memes can be, what memes we interact with (if we do interact with them at all), and how memes can be used online. I spent most of class trying not to open my big mouth on the subject lol For me, I found it interesting to hear how people interacted with memes and how they used them in their daily life. As expected few people created their own memes and even fewer people “memed” their own lives–i.e. created memes from their own source material. In my own research I’ve done on the topic, this seems to be the case for most people. We share and perpetuate memes in online spaces but only a few people contribute to the “remixing” of memes that allows for their replication and heavily contributes to what makes memes interesting to share.

Briefly, we did discuss replication and propagation of memes in online spaces a la Dawkins (1976). In Dawkins The Selfish Gene, the meme is defined as a “unit of cultural transmission” and can really include all manner of things a contemporary memer would not attribute to memes now. Dawkins proposed that memes are these things that get stuck in our brains and are transferred from one human to the next via mimicry. He equates this process to biological processes of replication and reproduction, most notably comparing meme replication to gene replication. For me and many other mimetic researchers, this definition is vague and problematic in many ways. Most notably, the comparison between memes and biological processes seems erroneous at best. Also, the definition of meme is never quite nailed down and so leaves open the possibility that anything could be a meme. Were the Internet not to be a thing that exists, these issues may not be so big. But, with the onset of the Internet, a very particular body of memes has risen up and complicates/challenges Dawkins original conceptions making parts of his seminal work kind of obsolete…

Anyway, all this is to say that researchers as well as people like myself and my classmates do have some rather interesting thoughts on memes and the purposes they serve–in culture, in society, in politics, for communication, for expression of self, etc. I myself have waxed poetic about memes on many occasions–such as this one, this onethis one, this one, and this one. Additionally, you can find me raving about memes on the regular on my thesis blog. So, I don’t want to waste my breath too much repeating myself on the subject. I love the content and the discourse but I really can exhaust myself.

I will say that I think memes are a valuable kind of sociocultural currency and that I believe they contain within them a greater depth of meaning than many established entities would like us to believe. To me, memes contain multitudes. More, memes contain us. They are representative of our beliefs and values but also our doubts and our experiences of disillusionment with life. More than mere social commentary, I view memes as a kind of rejection of traditional logic and established traditions. They are a means through which we can all play the part of Anonymous and express how we truly may feel when we think about power systems and our places within these systems. The threshold for entering into this kind of dialogue is that you have a computer and you have a lot of repressed feelings about the downward spiral known as your life in this day and age. Low threshold. Most twenty-somethings clear it. Easy.

In this way, memes are the voice of a generation. They are the voice of the repressed and the oppressed and the distressed. Memes are how we resist the system that would have us sit down, shut up, and eat what we’re told to swallow. They’re how we resist and we subvert the traditional logic and value systems that the current powers that be demand we accept because. Because that logic and those systems keep them in power. Keep them unchallenged.

I think a lot of news outlets, publications, and other authorities cast memes and other emergent forms of digital content creation like gifs and shitposting as inherently meaningless and degenerate because, yes, they benefit from doing so and from repressing the voice of a disillusioned and unsatisfied generation but also because they simply don’t get it. They don’t get memes. They don’t get shitposting. They don’t get that that’s the point–that they don’t get it. Like the OG Degenerate Art, Degenerate Art 2.0 galvanizes and politicizes nonsense. It is purposefully absurd. It is not meant to be easily classified and shoved aside like so many  people have been in their own lives. More, the absurdity expressed within emergent forms of digital content creation acts like a mirror, reflecting the absolute absurdity that is real life right now. I mean, have you seen some of the news headlines lately??? A US government shutdown for how many days??? It’s absurd. Unreal. And, memes are responding to that nonsense. They are a reflection of it.

If memes and other new forms of digital content creation seem absurd, it’s because the world is absurd. We are absurd. Life is one absurdity after another. We can either laugh about it or cry. Why not both????

Ultimately, for me, memes and shitposting embody Hugo Ball’s (1916) “this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect” sentiment. Memes are the fuck you and the horse you rode in on of the twenty-first century. They are how we speak our truths to power. How we bring power back down to earth. Remind power that respect is something that can only be earned through respectable actions. Remind power that it can easily be made a fool of.

Maybe I’m thinking too deeply on the subject. Maybe onto to Big Brother.

Either way, let me know what you think~

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My Make

This week, we had to meme a topic from our discussions about online issues. Very difficult, I know ^.^ Anyway, I chose to meme government surveillance in the US. I think I’m pretty funny but you guys be the judge~

Bonus Posts

This week, because of Spring Break, I’ve got two extra posts to share.

My first post is all about me doing the complete opposite of what I discussed in this post and assigning specific, logical meaning to memes in order to create a narrative out of five memes. It pained me greatly. Please check it out!

My second post is another contribution to the class Field Guide. In this post, I explore and reflect upon an article that discusses what makes a meme more fit than another meme. I get to discuss “meme death”. Quite a fun topic. Definitely recommend checking out~

Daily Digital Alchemies

In my first DDA, I shared a map of the dark fantasy world created by one of my fave authors, Leigh Bardugo. Her writing inspires me to write unapologetically and she inspires me to be apologetically myself.

In my second DDA, I share some of my fave digital artists. All of these artists are a part of my thesis and their work has greatly informed my own. I admire each of these artists and highly, highly recommend checking out their work. (I’m so excited to get to hear Alex Saum talk about her work in class soon!)

~Till next time~

The Lifespan of Memes~

This too shall pass~

shallnot pass

Or will it????

Hey~

So, in the course of working on my thesis, I’ve read a lot of articles and research studies about memes. Some articles focus on the spread and replication of memes through a system while others focus on the sociocultural impact of the meme and its semantic and communicative applications. Very boring stuff. Not the topic–the writing on the topic. It’s almost like mimetic researchers have something to prove…

Anyway, rather than bore you with some of those useful but admittedly snooze-worthy sources, I thought I’d share one of the more “fun” articles I came across in my research on memes. This article by Lauren Michele Jackson, published in The Atlantic, explores why some memes are more fit than others and tend to have a longer shelf-life (i.e. remain in the public consciousness longer). More, this article looks at “meme-death” and what elements a successful meme needs to have in order to propagate in or current social system.

Though not an academic article per se, Jackson does draw upon mimetic research to define the internet meme as well as to critique the antiquated definition (calling Dawkins (1976) concept “deliberately capacious”–which is fair). To Jackson, though, it seems more apt to define the current Internet meme as a kind of joke. Jackson states, “memes as they’re popularly discussed nowadays often index something much more specific—a phrase or set of text, often coupled with an image, that follows a certain format within which user adjustments can be made before being redistributed to amuse others. Also known as: a joke”. While memes often inspire humor and laughter, that is not the main reason for why Jackson compares the meme to a joke. It is the shared quality of jokes and memes to “uniquely and deliberately make depth inconsequential to their appreciation” that Jackson cites as the main reason for why the two mediums are comparable. Essentially, counter to every proud mimetic theorist out there, Jackson believes that the most defining quality of the meme is that its meaning is shallow. Or, at the very least, it does not matter if a meme means anything deep or profound; people are not thinking that hard about it and that is the point. As reiterated multiple times in this article: jokes just aren’t funny anymore once explained. Once a meme has been explained or becomes so popular that it is no longer popular, it dies.

Jackson’s thoughts on the meme and a meme’s life are quite interesting. While I disagree with her on the “shallowness” of meme’s meanings, I do find myself agreeing with the idea that more successful memes are ones whose meanings can be easily co-opted. Essentially, the template can be recycled and the meaning swapped out for another but the impact still remains. This, to me, indicates that there has to be some kind of inherent, deep-seated meaning in a template that underlies any superimposed nuance. That inherent meaning, I believe, is dependent upon the cultural context in which the meme is dependent. This is something Jackson seems to agree with me on. According to Jackson, “Memes capture and maintain people’s attention in a given moment because something about that moment provides a context that makes that meme attractive”. Once that context passes, it’s time for new memes. If a meme is not attuned to public sentiment at a certain time, it is no longer relevant.

Jackson ends her article by stating, “We create and pass on the things that call to our current experiences and situations. Memes are us.” Which I think it a very provocative idea. When memes are looked at as extensions of ourselves rather than disconnected means of communication–removed, to some degree, from us–I believe memes become easier to understand. At least, it’s easier to accept the complexity and multiplicity of this emergent medium when the human element is introduced into the conversation rather than viewed separately. The relationship between human and meme becomes more symbiotic than parasitic.

But, that’s just what I think.

Let me know if you have a different perspective. I’d love to hear it~

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~Till next time~

Five Meme Story? Say No More~

Really, say no more. Never do this to us again.

Creating A Narrative Across Memes

It sounds like a fun and inventive idea but bruh, this was not easy. Memes are these concise, little story units unto themselves and combining them is not a simple task. Even trying to get meme templates to “jive” with each other is challenging. Also, I find it difficult to superimpose another meaning atop a meme with a strong context of it own, especially if that meaning is not necessarily in the “spirit” of the meme. For example, this activity asked us to create a cohesive narrative out of five memes about how digital alchemy can combat darkness online which is a very serious and direct topic that can conflict with the free-spirited, lackadaisical, nonsensical, often subversive nature of most memes. Similarly to how providing attribution to memes online is kind of antithetical to the free-access, anti-establishment medium in some ways, attributing a serious, “this is a real problem” meaning to a meme seems somehow contradictory. Maybe that’s just me though and everyone else had a grand ol’ time doing this activity. Idk. I’m one memer of many. Perhaps I’m also over thinking the task or I’m not creative enough for it. That said, I did not particularly enjoy this activity.

Still did it, tho. With varying success.

You be the judge of my handiwork:

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You get the story? I hope so!

I meant for this work to be a commentary on how, often, a lack of input from invested and engaged citizenry in sociopolitical decision-making processes can be just as great a contributing factor to many of the issues we now face with the internet as unregulated data tracking and surveillance. In order for positive changes to occur in America specifically, we as citizens of the country are going to need to step up and activate the power we can have as a collective of concerned individuals. I hope at least part of that message got through (in a nice enough way). Another challenge I faced in doing this activity is that I don’t usually write positive stories??? I like writing harsh words filled with “mean” and mercurial characters that are able to give as good as they get from an unapologetically brutal world. Anyway.

Here’s a more comprehensive breakdown of the images I sourced to create this story:

  1. classmemeThe first image used makes use of the Distracted Boyfriend meme template and was sourced from the Somniporta’s “A Meme Countering Internet Darkness” collection. The meme in the collection is titled “Helllooooo” and is described as a meme intended to emphasize the growing disconnect between increasingly digital surveillance of American citizens and common sense. It was created using the imgflip Meme Generator. I think is opens discussion and allows for a dialogue to occur around it. I use it in my story as exposition.
  2. IMG_7352The second image used is a bit of a cheat in that it’s a Twitter post. That said, I do believe it is an example of “shitposting” (sharing purposeful nonsense online) which falls under the larger purview of memes because shitposting can also be classified as a unit of cultural transmission that spreads via inspiring further iterations of itself or the idea contained within. This post comes from @sosadtoday and I believe was posted during the US government shutdown(?) so it may have originally been referencing that. I use it to introduce a problem/create rising action.
  3. batmanmemeThis third image was one I created using the imgflip Meme Generator. I used the “My Parents Are Dead/Batman Slapping Robin” meme template. I use it to address the previously introduced action–that everything going on online is stupid and contradicts common sense. I guess it’s the climax of my story? It addresses preconceived notions about the previously stated problem head-on and demands a reevaluation of those ideas.
  4. hardpilltoswallowmemeMy fourth image was made using the “Hard to Swallow Pills” meme template and was also created using imgflip Meme Generator. I use it to summarize what was really implied by the last image–that change, in regards to the problem at hand (lol), is possible and within reach. This change, though, require reflection on our part and action that addresses some of the roots of the problems currently occurring in unregulated, online arenas. It’s my denouement, I guess.
  5. 2019-03-14 (2)My fifth and final meme makes use of a lesser-known text-based meme format that is known as the “Inappropriate Audition Songs” meme. (Read even more about the format here and check out more examples.) I used the template provided for it (hi i’m auditioning for the role of [characterand i’ll be singing [song that is inappropriate for the role]) and created my own version of the meme using my own tumblr account (hence the lack of attribution–it’s mine and I don’t feel like giving ya’ll my tumblr handle). I reference the second meme which conveys a rather apathetic sentiment to fill in the first blank of the template and, for the second blank, I reference a song that is all about making your own luck and finding your own sense of hope in an otherwise cold world. It’s the conclusion of my story and is meant to convey that while things may be bleak, if we can gather our forces and commit to change, there can still be hope~ ain’t it sweet

I hope the explanation here doesn’t take away from the story. More, I hope you enjoyed my story and I hope it challenged you in a good way.

Please, let me know what you think of my story and be sure to check out my main post on memes! It’s where all the really hot takes are 😉

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~Till next time~

dork1

The One-Sided Looking Glass…

Hey~

This week was an interesting one for me. In class, we began delving into the selfie and into concepts around self-representation in the digital age. My fave topic~

Waxing Poetic on the Selfie (Take 50 Bajillion)

For those who may be unaware, my thesis project revolves around self-representation in the digital age. Specifically, I’m investigating this subject through a Neo-Dada lens, analyzing emergent forms of digital content creation as new forms of not only self-expression but also as representative of a resurgence of traditional Dada ideals. I think there is a case to be made for recognizing emergent forms of digital content like memes, gifs, shitposting, and, even, selfies as a kind of Degenerate Art 2.0 (check out that post). If you’re interested in hearing more of my thoughts surrounding this subject matter, you can check out my thesis blog.

Anyway, self-representation and, by extension, selfies are a subject of hella interest to me. I’ve discussed my thoughts around the selfie at length here and here and my bonus post this week is all about a Vulture article which explores the selfie medium as a new genre of art. To me, I believe recognizing the selfie as an art-form is not beyond reason. Though I personally think of the selfie as more of a communication tool and selfies as a  new kind of discourse, I do think there are plenty of attributes of the selfie that could qualify it as art.

To see how some artists are incorporating the selfie into their work, I recommend checking out artist Alex Saum’s #SelfiePoetry project. It is a collection of eight digital poems that, “explores the intertwining of two ideas: the untruth behind artistic or literary histories, and our (il) legitimacy to intervene them to create narratives that make teleological sense”. This is my favorite poem from the collection and it incorporates Saum’s own Instagram and selfies:

In addition to discussing our own thoughts about the selfie as contemporary citizens of the digital age, we also explored Erving Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1956). In class, we read the introduction aloud. In the introduction, Goffman discusses a myriad of issues complicating not just the presentation of self but the performance of self, which is something I find to be quite interesting. Personally, I do believe that the onset of digital technology has made life an increasingly performative experience. Because of social media, it”s accessibility, and the 24/7 news cycle, I do believe that a large percentage of people are performing life more than living it. That said, I find it interesting that this was a concern before digital technology. Goffman states, “I shall consider the way in which the individual in ordinary work situations presents himself and his activity to others, the ways in which he guides and controls the impression they form of him, and the kinds of things he may and may not do while sustaining his performance before them”. Essentially, as Shakespeare said, we’re all players and all the world’s stage.

If life has always been a performance, then, to me, digital means are just providing a new stage upon which to perform. The problem being that this stage is not only large but the audience as well. And, that audience is quite unforgiving in their critiques.

That said, bringing the scale back down, I tend to think of selfies in a more positive light. For me, at least, selfies have been a way for me to regain self-confidence as well as reclaim a sense of self. I’m in control of the viewer’s gaze when I take a selfie rather than at the mercy of it. I find that to be empowering as do many others. Some people, though, are critical about the empowering aspects of the selfie and argue that it is still a form of objectification. Or, mire, they argue that the selfie is simple vain and frivolous. Many people dismiss the selfie as being anything significant.

I think utter dismissal of the selfie is a very narrow-minded act. Also, I think that dismissing the selfie, which is a medium popularized by the constantly scolded Millennial generation, is a way to similarly dismiss Millennials and the notion that such an “irresponsible” and “shallow” could ever be responsible for anything meaningful. In my opinion, the dismissal of the selfie is a vilification of the Millennial generation. At least. I think dismissing the selfie is a symptom of a greater sociocultural problem.

Anyway, back to self-representation in the digital age. I feel that the selfie along with many other emergent forms of digital content expresses the partiality of self. At least, all of these different mediums together create this collage of self that communicates that self is so much more than any one thing. If anything, the #selfieunselfie project really emphasizes the performative qualities of the selfie but also how there is no one medium through which to express self. Even the selfie is incapable of conveying any holistic sense of self. To me, this doesn’t indicate a shortcoming so much as it illustrates the complexity of self and the affordances digital technology provides to expressing this inherent but often irrevocable aspect of self: that self is prismatic and multi-faceted.

Overall, I think an exploration of the selfie reveals that it is not so simple a subject as many people think or would like to believe. As Goffman’s book indicates, self has never been easy to express or capture. In fact, so much of self seems to be dependent upon the interactions we have with each other, again, removing control of self from the equation. While the onset of the digital age has certainly complicated our relationship to ourselves and each other, I think it has also provided us with new opportunities to explore complexities that we yet to comprehend. More, new technology and creative uses of this technology, such as the selfie, allow us to experiment with our identities and explore how far we can extend who we are. The digital age may come with new problems for us but it also comes with new opportunities to shed light on who we are and who we can be. I think there is so much potential for us to be so much more than we ever thought possible.

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#SelfieUnselfie Project

Though I participated in the first round of the project already, I decided to make another entry. Personally, I wanted to see if there was any change in my thoughts or perspective since a lot of things have changed in my personal life between these two Makes. I don’t think much has changed in my core concepts but I do think my latter entry is more raw, perhaps. I felt a little torn open writing it but it was a good kind of pain. Despite how often I talk about self and self-representation, I still find it incredibly painful to talk about myself and my own sense of self and what makes me feel real. Please, excuse any of my posts if they seem a little too frenetic or otherwise anxious; this topic really takes a lot of energy for me to write about.

Discussing the #Selfieunselfie Project

Make: My Selfies Keep My Secrets

Daily Digital Alchemies

In my first DDA this week, I memed my cat, Dove. I took an origami class at my local library this week and learned how to make a little samurai hat which I promptly placed on Dove’s head when I returned home and snapped a pic of. In my DDA, I imagined what she must be thinking about the undignified gesture. (She is quite the diva–which I think means something coming from me >.>)

In my second DDA this week, I let my inner child loose >.< I hope my entry isn’t too uncouth~

My Annotations on the Goffman Article

~Till next time all you pretty people ;)~

Exploring the History of the Selfie~

So, I know this post wasn’t formatted exactly as suggested but I was in “the zone” and didn’t even think of writing this post as suggested. Sorry >.< Just know I contain plenty multitudes~

When it comes to discussing emergent forms of digital content creation, I think there are few more disputed or more controversial forms than that of the selfie. It has been vilified across the board, reaffirmed, vilified again, then reaffirmed….and so on. It appears we as a people can’t seem to make up our minds abut whether or not selfies are insignificant and vain or profound expressions of self and the experience of life in a finite form. (Perhaps selfies can be a little of both???)

Anyway, regardless of your personal feelings on the medium itself, I think many of us realize that selfies do constitute their own genre of sorts. There are standard conventions that guide selfie creation and proliferation as well as entire digital platforms designed to “house” these new artifacts. Most, if not all, of us can recognize a selfie when we see one. The specific purpose of the selfie may be subjective but we can all objectively identify a selfie as a selfie.

Some people, like myself >.>, have even begun to identify selfies as art.

In a Vulture article by Jerry Saltz, there is a case made for viewing selfies as their own distinct art genre, separate from the self-portraits of artistic tradition they have often been compared to. Saltz cites the cultivation of very specific conventions as well as the “cultural dialogue” selfies seem to engage in as prime evience for why selfies should be considered as their own artistic genre. In the article, Saltz states,

These [Selfies] are not like the self-portraits we are used to. Setting aside the formal dissimilarities between these two forms—of framing, of technique—traditional photographic self-portraiture is far less spontaneous and casual than a selfie is. This new genre isn’t dominated by artists. When made by amateurs, traditional photographic self-portraiture didn’t become a distinct thing, didn’t have a codified look or transform into social dialogue and conversation. These pictures were not usually disseminated to strangers and were never made in such numbers by so many people. It’s possible that the selfie is the most prevalent popular genre ever.

According to Saltz, not only do selfies constitute as their own genre that is distinctly different from traditional self-portraiture but selfies also represent new forms of communication and socialization. Selfies are not just images, removed from a particular context. No, they are these very present, immediate messages that have a kind of agency. Selfies can be responses or reactions or affirmations or assertions or any number of poignant forms of communication. Saltz states, “Selfies are our letters to the world. They are little visual diaries that magnify, reduce, dramatize—that say, ‘I’m here; look at me.” Selfies are becoming not just an extension of our own language but almost a language unto themselves. Which is fascinating.

One one hand, selfies seem to be about self-representation and extending self beyond previously imposed finite limits but, with their increasing ubiquity, they are also becoming this cultural phenomenon that is able to express something about who we all are. Which, isn’t that what are does? It speaks to something transcendent yet so visceral. Something we can almost touch, but can’t quite hold. Which, isn’t that what self is?

The line between art and self is blurry, at best. Even if you don’t see selfies as particularly artistic or expressive, I think it’s fair to say that they are, currently, culturally significant. Which, to me, necessitates a need to look more closely at them and at what it is about selfies that resonates with so many people. What are selfies saying that we want to say? Or, that we want people to hear? What is in a selfie that is so important to share? Or, for those of us who keep our selfies private, what doe a selfie capture that is so important to save? I think these are all important questions and ones that are worthy of our investigation and consideration.

To dismiss selfies as simply trivial or frivolous or vain is to ignore what seems like the experience of more than half of the world. Like Saltz says, selfies are a way to communicate the experience of being here, of being me experiencing me in this very moment and how absolutely wild and unfathomable it is to exist. How can you ignore that???

It seems like a message that humanity has been trying to communicate for so long. It’s like some Thoreau-esque, transcendentalist bull. Just writing these words sounds like I’m trying to get at something sublime. Something that is integral to the human experience but is ineffable. I’m not trying to say that selfies are a manifestation of the sublime or that they hold some secret to ultimate self-realization but they could. 

I think it’s important that we continue to investigate the selfie and other emergent forms of digital content creation if for no other reason than because they are us, they increasingly represent us. And, we’re important subjects.

Don’t you think so too?

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~Till next time~

Thoughts on Selfies

More Thoughts on Selfies

I’m Nobody! Who Are You?

Are you – Nobody – too?

Then there’s a pair of us!

Until recently, I considered myself a selfie-queen. I would post pictures of myself daily on my social media feeds. The pictures made me feel confident and made me see myself as pretty. Despite the confidence I’m sometimes told I project, I’m actually quite self-conscious about my appearance. Growing up my skin was too pale and my nose too big and my freckles too blotchy and my teeth too crooked and… I grew up feeling like I was not enough. Posting selfies was a way for me to reassert control over my own narrative and reclaim a sense of self. Due to some personal reasons, I haven’t really posted a selfie in a while but I do still view them as these tools/conduits for self-renewal as well as self-reflection. They tell your audience that you are “feeling yourself” that day or feeling something about yourself or your life that you need to express in a way that can be witnessed.

In my selfie (left), I am pictured in the less-traditional-but-still-common full-body pose. My reflection in a mirror is the central focus. I am wearing all black which contrasts with my pale complexion and silvery-white-blonde hair. In my face, my blue eyes shine, the light from the window beyond the mirror catching the gleam in them just right. I clearly know my angles. This is not an amateur selfie. My pose is strong and my expression teasingly mysterious as my mouth is hidden behind my phone screen. At once, this image is a revelation and a secret. I’m someone, maybe–but who? Another rebel without a cause? A punk-rocker at her day-job? A girl who is deeply self-conscious about herself?

A selfie’s significance, I believe, lies in its utility.

For each one of us as individuals, it can be a tool through which we rebuild self-esteem and explore our own identities. A selfie can serve as a witness to who we are in a particular moment of our lives. But, this medium is a one-way mirror. What we see when we look at our selfies is not what everyone else sees. More, not everyone else has our own personal context. No, they only have their own contexts.

My selfies don’t reveal the many journal pages I’ve scribbled on over the years. They don’t reveal of the words within those pages, any of the poems I’ve written for people that I’ll never share, any of the memories I’ve caressed, any of the “I love you”s or “I miss you”s. My selfies don’t share the drowsy dreams drawn nor the faint stains from tear drops that couldn’t be brushed away fast enough. My selfies keep these parts of me close to the chest. They hide my mouth behind a screen.

My selfies keep my secrets.

It’s odd, when I think about it, that people don’t know about these thoughts or feelings. When I thought about what would best represent me without me being in the picture, the first thing that came to mind were my journals. My writings. Aside from me, my journal pages have witnessed the realest parts of me. More, they contain the realest parts of me. I am not just in those pages. I am those pages. I own every word in those journals. I own every experience they record. They may even know me better than I know myself some nights.

At the same time that I think it’s odd people don’t know the me within my writing, I also can’t imagine sharing my journals with, really, anyone. Though there are some words within for other people that I should or could share, I don’t write in my journals for anyone else but me.

To me, selfies and new practices of self-representation in the digital age emphasize the partiality of self. There is not one container that can hold all of who and what we are. No single picture can accomplish that because who we are is so much more.

Not a single one of us is not enough.

Fuck anyone who ever made us feel differently. They were wrong. I hope we see can see that with every #selfie and #unselfie we take.

I know I’m trying to.

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~Till next time~

Thoughts on Selfies

More Thoughts on Selfies

The Dark Circles Beneath (My first #selfieunselfie project)

Twitter