What role does online anonymity play in the construction of a new art? And why, after invading our communications and lives, has such a large portion of this new art positioned itself under the umbrella of anti-PC-ness?, misogyny and racism? Which strange twist of fate turned Pepe the Frog into a new svastika? And, most importantly: how do we take back an extremely effective form of communication from the dominion of the new right-wing extremisms? Defining a meme is no mean feat. If we said «a fragment of pop culture, almost invariably funny, inevitably viral and open to free reinterpretation», we’d have barely scratched the surface. The old
adage on pornography might work better: I know it when I see it. From the captioned images of Gene Wilder as Condescending Wonka to the most recent specimens, comprehensible only to some narrow circles (composed either of “chosen ones” or self-diagnosed autistics), the history of memes is primarily that of an eel breaking free from mass appeal. Their disruptive effects can still be seen in communications, irony and political propaganda (was it memes that got Donald Trump elected in 2016?). We’ll keep a close watch on them during an evening filled with amusement and apprehension. We’ll be joined by Alessandro Lolli, a writer for
cultural magazines (Prismo, Pixarthinking, VICE) and the author of La Guerra Dei Meme, a necessary compass for anyone who wants to find their way in the labyrinth of interpretations and irony levels; Silvia Dal Dosso, a filmmaker and member of the digital artists’ collective Clusterduck, who just curated the online exhibition #MEMEPROPAGANDA; and, finally, by Lo Sgargabonzi, «the best Italian comedy writer» according to Internazionale, who doesn’t create memes but moves in their same, ambiguous trace (and who, because of this, has been labelled a fascistoid by comedian Daniele Luttazzi in person). Memes are here to stay: you’d better befriend them.
Fenomenologia di uno scherzo infinito
Alessandro Lolli, Effequ, 2017
Over the past years, memes have imposed themselves as a form of humorous communication for an entire generation. What does this phenomenon tell us about the world we live in? Beginning forty years ago as memetics, a science coined and then rejected by Richard Dawkins, memes nowadays have become a linguistic device if not an actual language, with predetermined codes and objectives. This essay recounts the way memes have developed, investigating the evolution of their language, its functions and cultural foundations, spacing through history, semiotics and politics, and exploring memer communities, Alt-Right and Donald Trump, nerd groups and subcultures.