A MANIFESTO

Hello stranger.

Welcome to the obscure and tempting depths of #MEMEMANIFESTO.

What you’ll experience here is both a beginning and a conclusion: the culmination of four years of collective research about the online mem-o-sphere, and the birth of a new chapter in this research cycle.

This website is not #MEMEMANIFESTO, rather a part of it: #MEMEMANIFESTO is a transmedia project that will take various forms at various times. #MEMEMANIFESTO was born out of one simple idea: that memes are more than mere “funny viral images”.

In fact, we believe memes to be the latest iteration of the one true power that defines us as a species: the faculty to understand, interpret and alter our reality through linguistic and symbolic patterns of meaning. To understand this power means to hold the keys to control the uncertain grounds on which our common social world is constructed.

In other words: memes are a powerful new cultural technology that should be respected and treated as such.

LIVING IN AN UNRAVELING WORLD

Internet Memes’ use over the past two decades has extensively validated this belief: they have served as constituent elements of new, online-based subcultures; they have been employed as tools to establish new rituals; they have inspired a new aesthetic, and have become the founding stone of a new kind of language – one capable of sustaining the immensely accelerated information metabolism of the digital age.

When we started this research four years ago, we were moved by our desire to understand a historical turning point in the use of memetic technology: the redefinition of political space following the US presidential election of 2016 and its global outfall. We firmly believe that this event would have been unthinkable without the existence of internet memes – just like historical fascism wouldn’t have been the same without the power of cinema or radio.

Four years later, one might say that we’re experiencing a genuinely post-modern mixture of delusional sorrow and gleeful confirmation. Seeing the impact the aforementioned events had over the years, and witnessing their effects on our social networks, we feel that our beliefs have been vindicated by reality. At the same time, we can’t but share the feelings of increasing despair and pessimism that animate many of our friends and comrades around the world.

While a giant web of conspiracy theories and alternative realities is both reinforcing and accelerating the deconstruction of our shared sense of reality, a global pandemic is forcing us to confront the fragility of our hypercomplex world. Meanwhile, geopolitical arrangements that have sustained seven decades of relative post-world-war stability are unravelling at vertiginous speed, and the unfathomable reality of anthropogenic climate change is shattering the most pessimistic scenarios laid out by the global scientific consensus. And this is not to mention the recrudescence of social inequality, racism, homophobia and bigotry we are witnessing around the world.

DO WE NEED MEMES? (SPOILER: YES)

In a moment like this, we can’t but ask ourselves: is there really nothing more urgent to do than studying memes? Is this really what the world needs right now?

As you might imagine by now, our answer is still “yes”. We still hope that these trivial, controversial bits of symbolic information we call “memes” might help us rebuild this broken web of reality that is entangling us all.

Let’s be frank: it’s not like the pre-Trump world was perfect – actually far from it. Trump, Brexit and all the seemingly “unthinkable” events we have witnessed over the past years aren’t but symptoms, desperate expressions of rage, coming from a social body that had been silenced for far too long by the neoliberal ideology of the primacy of the markets. The answer to these events cannot be a return to the status quo ante. We can and must finally unlock the doors to a different future.

This website is a modest attempt to do so. Taking inspiration from ancient occult knowledge and contemporary internet communities, we identified 10 levels of memetic depth and connected them to 10 topics that define our memetic research. These levels are represented both on this website and in a series of IRL tables, which will form an installation we call “detective wall”.

DIVE INTO THE DEPTHS OF MEMETICS!

To be as inclusive as possible of the countless web communities that contributed to enrich the history of memes, mememanifesto.space is also linked to a system of 10 Telegram research-chats and bridge bots, which will allow everyone to contribute with meme-selections, links or papers regarding the research topics of each layer.

This system will allow mememanifesto.space to exist on the web as a forever updating archive, accessible to and expandable by all interested users.

As you will see, the mememanifesto.space landing page is inspired by the descending path of classic meme-templates such as “Iceberg Tiers Parodies” or “Galaxy Brain”. Scrolling down, the user will be led through ever deeper levels of memetic complexity, from the most popular formats to the most occult.

As the protagonist from the famous Pepe Silvia meme (better known as “conspiracy theory guy”) would say: everything is connected.

We invite you to start exploring, with one last advice: please keep in mind that this is a beta version. Over the next days, weeks and months, more functions will be implemented and new areas unlocked, so we invite you to come back regularly and watch out for news.

Also, you can reach us at ……. for any inquiry regarding our work.

Thank you very much for your attention up to now, and have a nice swim!

ATTRIBUTION NOTE

Thanks for visiting mememanifesto.space!

Regarding the memes shown on the website: we tried to correctly track and credit as many of them as possible, crediting the authors where necessary – not always an easy task, as you might imagine ;)

If you think some of the material we shared shouldn’t be here, or happen to be the author of one or more of the works shown, please don’t hesitate to contact us at clusterduck@mememanifesto.space.

All of Clusterduck’s work is released under
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives CC-license.

MEME MANIFESTO

A voyage through the feels and the deepness.

CHAT ARCHIVE

We are performing our research on several Telegram groups. Join our chats if you want to contribute to the Meme Manifesto ever-updating archive!

See the preliminary results on the Detective Wall

1. Memes as collective rituals
Rage comics, lol-cats
join
2. Memes and the mainstream
Golden Age impact memes, marketing memes
join
3. What makes memes relatable?
Relatable memes, Twitter memes
join
4. Memes between technic and magic
Political memes, hyperstitional memes
join
5. Memes and identity politics
Chad & Virgin, queer memes, Wojak memes, NPC
join
6. Memetic diasporas and platform capitalism
me_IRL_community, Tumblr, Instavawe
join
7. References and formats
Meta-memes, recursive memes
join
8. Memetic conspiracies
Esoteric memes, conspiracy theories
join
9. Memetic narratives
Surreal memes
join
10. Memes and cultural appropriation
Fried memes & Black Twitter
join
🧭

The Internet Love Machine

The meme is born and Bill Haz Cheezburger

First came the feels

Just for hits

The meme enters the mainstream, and dies eventually

The joy, the pain, the anger.

Idk but it's totally me

The meme gets relatable, but how

The feels kept us together, in the frozen depths of the www.

We are at war

The meme is a means, the meme is a god

Then came the magic.

Hey Boy, Hey Girl

The meme applies a strong binarization of society, also the meme: 🤯