‘Only those with no memory insist on their originality’
I recently read a blog post by Denver-based artist and graphic designer Cole Sletten wherein he comments on the magnitude of online representation occurring through the construction of identity through means of claiming others’ work as representation of one’s self.
A causational factor of this, I believe, is the ease with which one can reblog, like, link to, or comment on the internet. The construction of a digital self, personality, and passion is easily accessible. Oftentimes, little incentive exists to move the user beyond the reblog. For example, a craft project of mine was featured under the DIY tab on Tumblr. And while I didn’t mind the increased traffic, it was disconcerting that many who reblogged the images curate blogs that exist solely as places of linkage to the work of other bloggers. I am flattered that they found what I created to be interesting, but for me, part of the process of creation requires injecting a piece of your unique self, perspective and identity into the work; reblog culture makes it too easy to simply claim an idea or an image as one with which you identify. However, at the same time, this process can also provide a non-footnotable way in which to pay homage to the ideas or works that inspire one’s own creative or intellectual process, hence the quote from Coco Chanel.
This acknowledgement of those that provide inspiration was previously inaccessible and clumsy. Now, it can be done through a few simple clicks. However, there should be an act that occurs from inspiration. Which is why I think that there is both significance and an immense deal of “creation” that goes on in the form of memes. Some are the injection of creativity into images from other sources and require little more than a sarcastic quip to gain a foothold in internet culture. One such example is the ever-entertaining Feminist Ryan Gosling blog. On the other side of the work-intensive-scale of memes comes works that provide a sarcastic play on popular events. Recently, a popular example has been the insertion of Lt. John Pike (who was involved in the pepper spraying of students at UC Davis) in famous works of art. While there is creative input in these and other similar examples, the defining factor of memes are the way in which they spread digitally.
This isn’t to say that one must only create online, or that creation should follow a series of explanatory images because the creative process is neither that simple nor that explicit. This is to say that sharing and consuming should result in some form of follow up or follow through. To use Sletten’s phraseology, the ‘curation’ should feed into the creation and the digital framework provides the ideal means with which to not only build one’s brand of likes but one’s individualized outcomes as a result of those likes.
Lead image courtesy of the Library of Congress Flickr. In-text image one courtesy of Flickr user The Nothing Corporation. Licensed via Creative Commons. Second in-text image likened under the Creative Commons and courtesy Flickr user Martin Deutsch.