Odds are you’ve heard of a meme, defined by dictionary.com as, “an idea or element of social behavior passed on through generations in a culture, especially by imitation.” Wikipedia defines an Internet meme as, “a concept that spreads via the Internet.” Pretty ambiguous, I know. But, these days most Internet phenomena, from Barking Cats, to Double Dream Hands, Honey Badger (and its parody), to stuffwhitepeoplelike.com, fit into the meme category. If you are still confused, reference this guide.
Last week when UC Davis police pepper sprayed student protesters on campus, one result was the near-instantaneous creation of a new Internet meme. In this case it happens to be art related, which we love here on Zatista.
After watching lengthy videos of the UC Davis event on YouTube, an American artist living in Scotland named James Alex, Photoshopped some quick alterations of several masterpiece paintings. The idea caught on quickly and within a few hours, Lt. John Pike – by that time notorious around the world – appeared to be pepper-spraying his way through canvas after famous canvas.
Alex “mashed” up The Gross Clinic and Arcadia by Thomas Eakins, The Spirit of 76’ by Archibald Willard, Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth, and The Luncheon on the Grass by Édouard Manet. Then, other Internet denizens took up the torch altering Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence.
Where does it go from there? Well, Abbey Road, for starters:
Next stop, Star Wars:
Where it ends is another question all together. What are your favorite memes? Share with us here on WallSpin.
- ‘Casually Pepper Spraying Cop’ Meme Takes Off (npr.org)
- Pepper-spray incident takes on own life on the Web (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- The joy of viral art inspired by UCD pepper-spray video (news.cnet.com)
- Pepper Spray Cop Becomes an Internet Meme (mediabistro.com)