Ahead of CTRL: Reprezent x ICA, three artists Deborah Findlater, Zarina Muhammad and Laurél Hadleigh, all from sorryyoufeeluncomfortable have infiltrated the ICA Instagram account @icalondon #ICATakeover [T.O]. Here, they present the takeover for the ICA Blog, experimenting with, and exploring, post-internet culture, code-switching and memes (M3M3Z when created by the Findlater, Muhammad and Hadleigh). Words and digital curation by Francesca Altamura. Page by Natasha Trotman.
If you were born between 1990 and 1995 *golden years* #90skid #neverforget, you waited for your parent’s dial-up modem to connect to your AOL account. At one point or another, you used dinosaur technology (completely extinct and almost mythic now), including the floppy-disk, the VCR, the walk-man, and the *coveted* Sidekick.
"Digital natives have learned the ability to 'out-tech’ almost everyone else."
Kids born post-95, otherwise known as digital natives, have *barely* or *never* used a thesaurus (substitute : Wikipedia or Google), a CD player (substitute : Spotify), Microsoft paint (substitute : Photoshop) or a fold-out map (substitute : Citymapper).
From the age of three, digital natives have learned the ability to 'out-tech’ almost everyone else, who to them are dinosaurs - also known as digital immigrants. Digital natives are more knowledgeable about trending apps, the latest iPhone data specs, and can bypass the most foolhardy of SafeSearch filter settings. They are the future. And for anyone unschooled in the latest tech know-hows, take some advice and ‘delete your account’.
No matter how you live, no matter how you internet, memes dominate. For the artist-users, the internet is the media, the medium, and the message conditioning contemporary (‘post-internet‘) culture. Whether they want to or not, there is no signing-off or logging-out.
The internet is an ecosystem where creatures, trolls and gremlins fester, thrive and survive as memes."
The internet is an ecosystem, one which thrives off user-produced content. Memes are the creatures, trolls and gremlins which live in that ecosystem, contributing to its survival. The content generators of those memes, however, fall prey to the network of fellow internet users. Memes combine images and text to create a meta-language (code-switching between intellectualised critique and internet-slang). Only when the visual and linguistic are infused, do the ideas spread. A meme can emulate/evolve/exploit/endanger/emancipate at various stages of its life cycle.
Academic Sanjay Sharma best describes meme characteristics by stating "Memes are supposedly in a neo-Darwinian competition to survive in human minds, and there are three principal characteristic of successful memes: copying-fidelity (qualities that enable reproduction, such as memorability); fecundity (relevance and speed of replication); and longevity (length of time present for reliable reproduction)." Web 2.0 is the environment in which memes play, fester and mutate, while internet-users are the staple memes need to win the game of survival-of-the-fittest.
“[Memes are] the life form of ideas. A bad idea is a dead meme. The transience as well as the spread of ideas can be attributed to the fact that they replicate, reproduce and proliferate at high speed. Ideas, in their infectious state, are memes. Memes may be likened to those images, thoughts and ways of doing or understanding things that attach themselves, like viruses, to events, memories and experiences, often without their host or vehicle being fully aware of the fact that they are providing a location and transport to a meme. The ideas that can survive and be fertile on the harshest terrain tend to do so, because they are ready to allow for replicas of themselves, or permit frequent and far — reaching borrowals of their elements in combination with material taken from other memes...” (Raqs Media Collective, A Concise Lexicon Of / For the Digital Commons, 2003 [PDF])
Findlater, Muhammad and Hadleigh are ‘in-betweeners’, neither wholly digitally-native, nor internet basic. They have grown up amidst the most rapid technological evolution humankind has ever seen, spending (just about) their entire lives surrounded by this new technology. They know and understand memes, and have officially become M3M3Z content-producers. Their T.O is paradoxical to the nature of memes—which are characteristically rapid, zealous and viral—and the nature of the ICA as an institution, which is governed by *slow-paced* control and consideration. What happens when artists critique the characteristics, effects and affects, of memes?
"What happens when artists critique the characteristics, effects and affects, of memes?"
In joining forces, the artists have collaborated on several lines of INSTA-code to critique (yet circulate) internet M3M3Z—the contagious and infectious spread of ideas, images and videos—operating within an institutionalized space. They have created M3M3Z inspired by tweets posted on the URL IRL twitterbot @url_irl_url_irl, which, through an algorithm, combines the twitter accounts of Findlater (@pepper_coast), Muhammad (@ZarinaMuhammad) and the ICA - Hadleigh is more of a lurker than a Twitter user. Peep this already existent but unofficial ICA twitterbot. In an infinite cycle composed of randomised retweets from the three accounts, the URL IRL bot indeterminately posts every ten minutes, seemingly till the death of the internet. These M3M3Z have been created for CTRL: Reprezent x ICA Festival, by sorryyoufeeluncomfortable artists, in collaboration with the ICA. Let’s make these *dank-azz* M3M3Z go v-v-viral!
URL IRL bot asks: Where does the internet end & the real world begin?
Findlater: “Somewhere in the space between scrolling and typing.”
Muhammad: “for me it ends at screens. the internet at the moment is one of those things that i only come across on screens, and that’s where the limit is for me. i know where screens end and trees begin, so it’s more clear cut but sometimes these things bleed over into each other.”
Altamura: “PokémonGo has claimed its victims proving there is no boundary between the internet and the real world anymore. The internet has penetrated the outside world (including even the most sacred institutions).”