Memetics in Art History: Survival of the Dankest

Meme is to memetics as gene is to genetics; it’s the cultural transfer of information through nodes, with the survival of the fittest notion deciding the memetics which will survive, or trend. Internet memes are just one example; not the exhaustive constitution of memetics. The logic behind memetics is to examine the transfer of cultural material between people (nodes) and track the mutation of this information as it spreads virally, in the same way that Charles Darwin began to study the theory of evolution.

final meme.jpg

Memes are more than simply funny pictures, they layer cultural information and representation over an image to convey or protest information, in the same way that art has for centuries. It could be assumed that memetic material has its roots in the post-modern era; it’s somewhat dystopian, loud, recycled and non-authoritarian. Postmodernism is a reaction against the modern era in the same way a meme is a reaction against a cultural practice. An example is the work of Jake and Dinos Chapman, who effectively vandalised the faces captured in traditional artworks (image source).

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Art history has developed immensely over the last few centuries; the main development in the current era is the development of the prosumer. Art is being produced, consumed and shared on a new, simultaneous, large-scale basis as we slowly recede from the post modern movement.


(Meme created on imgur; images sourced 1 2 )

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