You can not Step into the Same Meme Twice

An Internet meme is an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry or for humorous purposes, from person to person via the Internet.

It most commonly takes the form of an image, frequently an animated or still image macro  . Hyperlinks, video, websites, and hashtags can be used as internet memes as well. Catch phrases, slogans, logos, sometimes including an intentional or unintentional misspelling can become memes on social media platforms. These small movements tend to spread from person to person via social networks, blogs, direct email, or news sources. They may relate to various existing Internet cultures or subcultures, often created or spread on various websites, or blogs, and other social media communications sites. Instant communication through digital devices facilitates rapid multiple word-of-mouth transmission .

The word meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, as an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads.

Internet memes are a subset of this general meme concept specific to the culture and environment of the Internet. The concept of the Internet meme was first proposed by Mike Godwin in the June 1993 issue of Wired.

A meme is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture — often with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.

The self-replicating and mutating component of memes in a digital mass media environment means that memes can change dramatically in their intent and original message. A recent example of this shifting intent is Pepe the Frog, which was hijacked and given a racist intent by those in the extreme American right .

Because Mass Media conveys intentional and unintentional messages, and visual fields of information are highly susceptible to context clues and placement, internet memes are fluid in meaning and intent. With their highly visual content and digital text environment being so flexible in layout and incorporating layers of information ( audio, colour, size, shape, and animation ), internet memes can change meaning much faster than regular language. So, as Heraclitus might say, you can not step into the same meme twice.



For more information & insight on memes see Project 3: Exercise 4.3 – Memes.

For a more alternative creative expression approach to memes see my Implied Spaces post, What is the Meme-ing of This


Mediated Matter – Mass Media, Organic Growth & Modified Environments



Mass Media constructs realities based on specific sets of codes and conventions determined by the nature of each Medium.  Advances in media technology combined with new approaches in physical design and manufacturing means that these constructed  realities can now manifest in the material environment.  When these constructed realities emulate organic forms and growth, a potential hybrid of virtual reality and the physical environment has the potential to come into existence.




The Mediated Matter group focuses on Nature-inspired Design and Design-inspired Nature. Conducting research at the intersection of computational design, digital fabrication, materials science and synthetic biology and apply that knowledge to design across scales from the micro scale to the building scale,  they create biologically inspired and engineered design fabrication tools and technologies and structures aiming to enhance the relation between natural and man-made environments. Their research field, entitled Material Ecology, integrates computational form-finding strategies with biologically inspired fabrication. This design approach enables the mediation between objects and environment; between humans and objects; and between humans and environment. Their goal is to enhance the relation between natural and man-made environments by achieving high degrees of design customization and versatility, environmental performance integration and material efficiency.


Seeking to establish new forms of design and novel processes of material practice at the intersection of computer science, material engineering, design and ecology, with broad applications across multiple scales, they are  breaking through the wall between Media constructed realities and  the physical environment, emulating organic growth & forms in a virtual environment and then replicating these as physical environmental elements.



Malak and the Boat: UNICEF’s Animated ‘Unfairy Tales’ Begin

Malak Title


UNICEF  launched a new animated series  meant to bring attention to the youngest victims of the Syrian refugee crisis, Unfairy Tales. Created by ad agency 180LA, the videos chronicle real children’s journeys from Syria by juxtaposing stunning animation with terrifying narrations of the terrible events wrought by this globally impactful humanitarian disaster. The first story, Malak and the Boat, tells seven-year-old Malak’s harrowing story of his journey across the Mediterranean seeking shelter from the Syrian conflict. Visual design company House of Colors built a custom animation algorithm for the film that gives the waves a stylized, almost autonomous behaviour as if the sea were a sentient thing.





While intended to contrast the contemporary mass media  view of fairy tales with the harsh reality of the refugee children, it actually reveals the core of fairy tales and folklore.  The power of fairy tales to convey the harsh reality through metaphor and archetype is clearly evident in this work of animation.  Childhood can be fraught with perils, both imagined and very real. Through the fairy tale these perils and the human spirit of resilience can be effectively portrayed and modelled. The real outcomes & collateral damage, rather than the Disney/Victorian happy ever afterwards, can be presented, that those with power & voice can strive to create a positive outcome for those caught up in a wave of societal conflict & extreme upheaval.


Peace Starts With Me: Video Art by Magali Charrier


Magali Charrier was commissioned by PUMAPeace, alongside 7 other artists, to create a piece around the idea of Peace for the World Peace Festival 2011. The piece was subsequently broadcast on Channel4 in October 2011 as part of Random Acts.

Artist Statement

“I use drawing as a tool for investigating the human body and its inner workings—giving sight to what is only felt, not yet seen or known. By merging animated drawings with live action, I put mark making at the centre of filmmaking. In their dialogue, body and trace question the materiality of movement and of human presence.

For films4peace, I was concerned with depicting the intimate battles that occur daily within oneself and the chaotic journey that takes place in order to reach inner peace. A simple setting: one fixed long shot, a human figure in an empty space. Stillness. Suddenly shadows flicker out of the human figure, sporadically first, then frenetically entering and extracting themselves, interfering and frantically disrupting the initial state, building up to darkness. Peace comes as a sudden breath born out of chaos.”

Charrier is an award winning director, animator and video editor whose work has been toured and broadcast throughout the world.


Magali Charrier – click to visit her website.


Click to view Le Corps en Construction series by Magali Charrier.

Her background in fine arts, animation and dance gives her a highly sought-after and distinctive style often incorporating film and animation. She is the recipient of numerous awards (VideoDansa Prize, Barcelona; NAHEMI Award at Encounters Film Festival, Bristol, Best Dance Film at CineDans Festival, Amsterdam and more) and bursaries from Channel4, BBC4 and the Arts Council.

Magali also works as a visual artist, producing animated video projections for live theatre and dance productions as well as short films and illustration. She completed a short series of animated films about contemporary dance, commissioned by The Place. The series was due to launch in summer 2014.