MEMES—AN ongoing social phenomenon. These often come in the form of funny pictures and texts combined, creating jokes that are passed on across cultures throughout the world wide web.
One cannot possibly open social media or at the very least use the internet without coming across memes. For baby boomers (the generation born before the internet began), these things are mere silly distractions that take up most of generation Y’s time. However, the truth is, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
To address this misunderstanding between two different generations, Tropical Futures Institute (TFI) held a one night only open-sourced exhibit of memes entitled “The Meme Show” last Aug. 18. TFI is a loose group of like-minded individuals, an arm of 856 G Gallery that focuses on “neo-centric community shows, focused more on bringing people together” as emphasized by Anne Amores, assistant gallerist of 856 G Gallery.
“Anyone can join. It’s a celebration of the meme culture and we’re trying to elevate memes into an art form which it arguably is,” said Zach Aldave, meme enthusiast and a member of TFI.
“Memes relate to the Dada movement. The dada began as a reaction to the limitation of art. Dada started like that; it’s anti-art art. We can relate that to memes, which are satirical social commentaries,” he continued. “It’s a super-mutated form of satire,” added Anne.
The interrelation of cultures before was brought about by intercontinental travels and interracial marriages. Back in the day, globally educating oneself was expensive and entailed one to physically expose himself to another culture, but in the present generation this happens in a different way, more accessible and easier.
“If you look at the meme and you strip all the unnecessary sh*t—all the irony and all the humor—it boils down to being just a pure form of social commentary,” said Zach.
Memes are cultural symbols or social ideas in the form of jokes, and are virally transmitted through wires without needing one to get out of the house. So despite the fact that one is just staring into the computer screen reading memes, one is actually being educated about the varying cultures from the different corners of the Earth.
As a form of art, memes are also forms of expression. Some memes exhibit dark humor which represents the sector from which it comes, and which a lot of people surprisingly empathize with.
“Some memes are also sort of expressing deeply seated feelings like depression. What’s good about memes is that these are like an outlet for a lot of people who are struggling. Usually they’re cloaked in irony or humor, and they empathize with each other through memes,” said Anne.
Unknown by many, memes can be traced back in history. It is being brought to light as a science with a study called Memetics. Memetics is a study begun by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. In this study, memes are understood to be cultural genes, carrying cultural information from one person to another and human beings are vehicles of their transmission.