Monday, November 7, 2011

Evolution of a Meme

When the world-created the mind-numbing abberations of 4chan and reddit, I don't think anyone expected us to unleash a Golden Age of photography and art. Alas, it seems to have occurred!

Starting from the same birth group, 4chans /b/(random) board, also known as the seventh circle of Hell, as all the "Advice Dog" series, a simple, elegant and professional photograph of a wolf by Montana artist Jeff Vanaugha was cut up, cropped on to a pattern of colored rays and finally, TA-DA!!!:

But wait, there's more! We can't have too much of a good thing right? No, not possible, or as courage wolf would put it, "Get there, get more there!" We had to find more wolf pictures:

Sir Courage Wolf Esquire. This art is wonderful in that nearly anyone can claim it as their own, in this case a Britain and world in a crisis of identity.

Baby Courage Wolf, classic comedic juxtaposition. Did I mention that every one of these, has come in to being (including the original Courage Wolf) since June of 2010?

Insanity Wolf, a classic nightmare image with background clearly conjuring the emotions and thoughts required to contemplate it.

Finally, beyond adding to the great library of Meme, there are modifications of existing images:

Monsieur Le Courage Wolf. It may be art but it is not above the stereotype. It also is nowhere near as popular as the other deeper images that convey a far truer message or at least use better comedic forms. This brings up an important point: are unartistic television shows profitable because its what people want, or because they cost less to make and are more predictable, a crucial consideration for those who will spend money to advertise a product on TV, and they are still tolerable to the audience?

Insanity Wolf in turn became a major meme all its own, inspiring numerous spin offs. In the interest of limited bandwidth, we will largely no longer be showing many additional images. However, nearly all memes originated in similar ways - a first, followed by a second, followed by seconds of seconds, each time taking on the watermark and unique thoughts and emotions of the people who created in anonymity before it. I believe it was Ronald Reagan who once said "You would be surprised what you can achieve in life if you don't care who gets the credit."

Some memes also originated as spoofs of the websites where memes originate. Included are "Pedobear," an image of a "Protection Bear" posted whenever child pornography was posted in a 4chan thread, the joke, of course, being that he must show up for the wonderful child pornography, while his smiling bearish face juxtaposed with a creepy pedophile creates humor too good to buy! Also Redditors Wife, who is constantly being ignored in the interest of Reddit, and the various Pokemon memes (including one of Ash Ketchum as a Hispanic) that obviously spoof the fascination of 4chan users with such ridiculously retarded things - in both cases spoofing the readers as opposed to the site itself.

Lastly, let us consider the Baron Ducreaux, in some ways an expression of the longing in our society for civility, depth, and sophistication as it juxtaposes good manners and rap music:

Centuries ahead of his time, the French court painter Baron Joseph Ducreaux famously painted himself using body language that would not become the norm for another 200 years in imitation, according to the artist, of a Mockingbird. (Painting title: Portrait de l'artiste sous les traits d'un moqueur, translated Self-portrait of the artist in the guise of a mockingbird by This is far from the only unusual painting that the Baron did in his time with the doomed court of Louis XVI, as he experimented often with facial expressions and features as a vehicle for describing personality, a crucial problem in an era before photography and easy travel, when portraits were used to show wealthy women and men their prospective mates. Though his painting are in the Louvre, what likelihood is there that the Barons work could've achieved such notoriety and widespread appreciation without 4chan, reddit, facebook, and the other pathetic wastes of time of the unwashed masses?

Unfortunately, such widespread appreciation has also inspired modification, including famously the Steve Buscemi Ducreux where Steve Buscemis face is inserted in the place of Baron Ducreaux's, but since in doing so the authors have satirized Steve Buscemi's manner and personality, have they not, albeit unwittingly, contributed to Ducreaux's legacy? By satirizing the satire, a new work of art has been born. Andy Warhol, in particular, DESIRED imitation with his simultaneously kitsch and inspiring works on Marilyn Monroe and soup cans, and purposefully sought out the field of advertising as a place to find true beauty.

There is too often a tendency to call putting weird strings and things on paper modern art, when the true modern art is right underneath our noses, evolving, as always, with the modern world. If any of you wish to further inquire about the art of Memes, I would suggest, a specialty news site that analyzes online trends, as a broad-based and reliable source.

All images from, and with clear legal intent, discarded works.

1 comment:

Anastasia F-B said...

Jeremy, I really enjoyed this, especially the info on Ducreaux, of whom I know next to nothing.