Are Memes Art?
by Amrit Paul
KnowYourMeme.com says it's a website dedicated to documenting Internet phenomena.
With the shelf life of as-long-as-your-attention-span-is,
memes are given likes, fed shares and served an internet death.
Are memes a work of art? What's the threshold aesthetic value beyond which a form of expression is considered "art"?
I mean, Eva Green's resting sadface is a work of art. Even without Prisma.
There's commercial films and art films - how much money a form of expression makes is sometimes a flag of "how art you today?"
So, business seems to distinguish itself from arts.
Are memes business?
Given how they're used by various brands to stand on the Balcony of Relevance for a while, given how "they basically pay me for coming up with memes" could very well be a job description, yes.
Memes are business.
But sometimes, they don't go too well.
Since every means of information you consume has a 7"×7" size or 720p size ad staring at you, that might very well be something you like.
Hence, memes. Writing in Impact (The Meme Font) over a photo is bound to make you read, no matter what.
The Internet has conditioned us thus.
You can make people read anything, but you can't control how they react to it:
the internet has conditioned us thus. That's where "Relevance" becomes a tool.
Even meme pages earn ad revenue from listicle links they post intermittently.
Like most ephemeral, short staying things, "timing is important here".
But hey, just because it's business doesn't mean it can't be art.
That's a false binary.
(Redundant meme ahead - the idea is to make this post simulate your News Feed.)
Speaking of memes being art, there are also memes which essentially caption
"certified pieces of art" and oh veyy.
via Classical Art Memes
Then again, badly made memes, like sloppy shitty poems, can backfire.
Like oil paint and charcoal and pen-and-ink are for paintings,
MS Paint is now a different genre of meme-making.
The plain flat colours, often uncoordinated, the poorly drawn lines and semblances of circles add to the unrealism of the story it tells.
These are memes that make memes out of the fact that they're "shitty, humorless memes".
Presenting ironical memes - a self-defeating battle.
With the text-on-picture format, lines are now being blurred between comics and memes.
Take Filthyratbag, for example.
Some say art is about the reaction it elicits from the person it comes in contact with.
While we have anti-war poems opposing conscription, we also have memes and comics doing just that.
There's something else that memes do - they take two or more unrelated elements, and form a connection between them.
Here's r e g r e t in two forms, brought together as a meme.
via Imaan Sheikh
Are Derivatives of Art, Art?
Something that fits the definition of a meme, and is actually an artwork first, and then a meme - what about them?
The "Is This Loss?" meme is a brilliant example.
So, are we at a point where the word "meme"
can be interchangeably used do imply "art"?
Like petrol and petroleum,
"rose", and "flower"?
No, not there yet.
But memes are our time capsules: they can preserve the essence of what we were at that point in time.
Hell, it can also be used in the 'time of the era' way -
"It was 1946, the peak of struggle for Independence."
"It was 2011, the year Rebecca Black's Friday and Nyan Cat were at their highest."
Memes are our time capsules, determined by upvotes.
Art makes you discover more of yourself - change yourself, even. Life-changing poems and books aren't a new thing. While it is one thing that people who become memes become famous (and put it to good use), can just partaking in meme revolutions change you?
So, to answer "Are Memes Art?"
You could say,
What does it make you discover?"
This could be the new Rule #34 of the internet : If It Exists, There is Meme of It.
We might not be too far from a Memes Museum
(A Meme-orial, if you will,)
of those that were great but didn't last - like transient moments in history of mankind, and photographs of What Had Been - archiving extinct memes like once-famous artworks.
Too late; it's already here. KnowYourMeme.com.
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