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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Memes and Memeification

Moschovi, Alexandra (2023) Memes and Memeification. In: Encyclopedia of Visual Culture, Digitisations, Transformations, and Futures. Bloomsbury Academic, Visual Arts, London. (Submitted)

Item Type: Book Section


This article seeks to offer a brief introduction to the mutable cultural and political currency memes may have within and beyond the ecology of the Internet. Starting with a concise introduction to the origins of memic production in contemporary culture and against wider online phenomena, the text explains through reference to examples of popular memes—from the original viral video “Dancing Baby” (1996) and “Hitler’s Downfall” parodies (2008) to flash mobs--what factors may contribute to their global success. Regarding Internet memes as “socially constructed public discoursers in which different memetic variants represent diverse voices and perspectives” (Shifman, 2016: 8), the text focuses on the changing use and cult value of memes that can transcend online humour and pastiche to become a shared cultural experience, a tool for propaganda, a means of creative expression, a mode of social protest and online activism beyond mere ‘clicktivism’.

This analysis is pursued through selected examples of varied uses of memes in online and physical environments, including:
• The appropriation of popular memes in politics and incidents of trashposting during the Brexit and the US presidential campaigns;
• The recontextualization of memes in museum and gallery spaces, such as the display of lolcats in the Life Online gallery at the National Media Museum (2012), the video-wall exhibition For the lol of Cats at The Photographers’ Gallery (2012), and the exhibit How Cats Took Over the Internet at the Museum of Moving Image, Queens (2015).

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More Information

Uncontrolled Keywords: visual culture, memes, memeification, image macros, LOLcats, NFTs, museumification
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Depositing User: Alexandra Moschovi


Item ID: 17229

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Alexandra Moschovi: ORCID iD

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Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2024 10:58
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2024 10:58