ANONYMOUS MEMETIC ART OF THE 21ST CENTURY
Ihaas Chisseburg & Notti von Dømmusik
Online Moderators, Ian Douglas Smith Institute of Art History, Modern History, Post-Modern History and View User Post History, Copenhagen, Denmark. email@example.com
Abstract: In 1550, Giorgio Vasari published The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, a comprehensive treatise on Early Renaissance artists. Many have criticised the work since, taking Vasari to task for his biases, lamenting how he presented future generations with a narrativized version of the past rather than some objective truth (as if we, today, would have a yardstick to measure its objectivity by). It is contemptible that such critics still exist. We should be glad, if anything, that Vasari managed to supply biographies for as many artists as he did, for countless more doubtless remain unknown, practically forgotten to history. This should be the real source of contempt for all of us.
The art historian of the modern era has a far greater ability to preserve information and propagate it to future generations but his work is by means easier. The profusion and rate of information exchange on the Internet makes history slippery, hard to track and verify. Stonehenge is perhaps the most famous piece of ancient anonymous architecture. The mystery of its authors remains with us even today. We can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the modern Stonehenges are internet memes. Think about it. Who made the Feels Good Man Frog? What about the This Is Fine Dog? Sadly, these questions, too, we may never find a definitive answer to. We need not give up completely, however. Revealing the authorship of such memetic art is the goal of this paper.
Our investigation opens with historical antecedents to memetic art in the 21st century. Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene is reviewed as well as some more of his recent online publications (@RichardDawkins, Twitter, 2018, 2019, 2020). Tools of the trade are considered. Much as prehistoric man's medium determined what he could do, Microsoft Paint is given a thorough review of, noting how in many ways its constraints facilitated the exact type of prototypical anonymous memetic art that defined the rest of meme art history. Here we compare Le Corbusier to Le Rage Comics as a preliminary case in point for the rest of the paper.
The middle of our investigation continues the thread set up at the start and considers file format artifact compression as a selective pressure for the evolution of memetic art (Darwin, 1859, Joint Photographic Experts Group, 1992). Following are two case studies: textual monster cockysis on two anonymous memes is performed to better determine how they may have come about and what they can tell us about their authors. Epic Fail Guy (2006) is considered, the author's socioeconomic status is hinted at by the use of MS Paint, the particular skull shape of the Guy's face is ran through state-of-the-art San Francisco-based phrenology apps in order to determine bloodline purity and country of origin, and emergent folklore as well as cultural impact is finally examined. Next, When U Mom Com Home And Make Hte Spagheti (2011) is traced to its origin in Tumblr blog "familyfriendlyurl". An example of the modern equivalent of traditional "outsider art", their bio is read and checked against common mental illnesses in the DSM II1 to find any possible disorders that might've influenced this memetic artwork. Their AO3 account is reviewed and possible connections between Supernatural omega-verse fiction and dancing green aliens are tentatively established, in order to fit this author's artworks into a larger superstructure (see Henry Darger and his cosmology). Finally, in this main body of our paper, we consider briefly the harmful ideologies and propagandizing that memetic art can turn to. The short-lived "BLM" meme is examined, as well as the contemptible Bernie Sanders memes of recent memory (for more information see K. Farms, 2011 to present).
Lastly, we give account of our to-date successes at identifying memetic art works and their authors, with a comprehensive list of identified artworks such as: Lady with an Ermergerd, The Treachery of Animes (Ceci n'est pas une fille), Pickle Rick Devouring his Grandson, American Goffik, The School of Athene, Arrangement in Sierra and Purple No.1 (Cream's Mother) and others. Parenthetically, note that all artworks here are dated by our new BG/AG method, meant to supplant the BC/AD terminology. We deem GamerGate to be of such momentous importance in modern Online history that we've thought it fitting to separate the new internet era AG (After GamerGate) from anything else that came before it. Though not in the scope of this paper, we have written about the parallel importance of the birth of Christ and the creation of Vivian James elsewhere (Chisseburg & Dømmusik, 2016, but see also HimmlerThot88, 2017, for criticisms and fanart).
In a way Vasari's Vite, to use the parlance of our times, "doxxed" the Renaissance's greatest painters and architects. He "provided receipts" and "spilled tea". It is our earnest hope, with this paper, to "doxx" every single person who created memes online in order to find invaluable information about them such as gender and social media accounts (instagram handles, private photos, etc.) or, perhaps even more importantly, political affiliations and ethnicity. We hope to catalogue all of these data into a comprehensive online list that anyone can "hit" for an instant shot of information. This preservation effort will surely engender an even better quality (and subject matter of) memetics over the decades to come. Whosoever does not remember his history, after all, is doomed to repeat it.
This paper was made possible through a grant by the Center for American Progress. We are indebted to their support.
1We use DSM II for reference in this paper due to its accuracy. The DSM III-R, published in 1987 (and subsequent versions afterwards) contain several contra-factual additions that prevent us from using the literature fully (see B. Pigeonspeaks, 2017, 2019)
Keywords: memetic art, modern art history, evolutionary biology, richard dawkins, cultural studies, wow, epic, win, cutForBieber, political bias, narrativising history