Memes—infinitely self-referential, seemingly originless, and virally proliferating—have come to be not merely part of our daily life, but a force that shapes how we see the world itself. And memes have something black about them. So says artist, writer, and curator Aria Dean as she explores how black people create, care for, and share memes, images defined not by what they are in and of themselves, but by their transmission.
These images born of black creative labor circulate independently of the black body, forming networks deeper in time and wider in distribution than any singular individual. Mobile and unmored, they move about the digital world marring clear ontological lines along the way. Memes are propelled into a universe where they might mutate and grow, where they might be reuploaded and compressed, and where they might even be stolen by white users. This narrated compilation of videos that are themselves seemingly sourceless, but yet cared for and re-uploaded, is but another node in this network of infinite circulation. It is an exploration in thinking blackness through memes and memes through blackness.
Repetition as a Figure in Black Culture, James A. Snead
The Generic Orientation of Non-Standard Aesthetics, Francois LaRuelle