exercise 4_3: a meme


exercise: Taking inspiration from an image or idea you’ve researched, create your own photographic response to an internet meme. This may be something original, or your own interpretation of an existing meme. It might be funny or profound, but it should make people want to look at it and share it.


Having used Facebook rather extensively as interface for my final assignments, I over time sought out various meme pages and explored some of the forms in which memes are generated, repeated, altered, and circulated.

— What follows is a fairly narrow selection of the memes that interest me and the sites that post them. In that, many of them are political, are at points offensive, and at other points targeting a rather particular audience (like Freud Quotes, Shit Academics Say or Zlazloj.zizek, which is Slavoj Zizek extensive experiments in social media form). The other type of memes I was interested in are those that are ironic takes on both memes and the wider context of YOLO (you only live ones), these are the inspirobot.me and Vapid Daily.

Politics, narcissism and social media practice

Zlazloj.zizek, Zizek’s page (and numerous other pages like I would prefer not to, Disturbing Books, Freud Quotes seem all fairly closely interconnected, often reposting each others posts, so for many of the memes, there is a iteration and redundancy in my feed, which reinforces, repeats, reminds).

Zizek in particular explores the edges of taste, the futility of love (which I take to be an attack on current strands of feminist politics around care, self-care and a renewed focus on social reproduction) and above all the scope for narcissism in social media form. These two are examples of this:








Both reference popular films (It and Fifty Shades of Grey), depict key stills from these and insert Zizek as protagonist: as monstrous clown Pennywise (who is very much to be feared) and as the subject of Christian Grey’s unconventional desire. In both these scenes, the meme works because it requires an audience’s familiarity with the plot development, the actuality of appropriate fear vis-a-vis Pennywise and that Grey’s desires are of sexual domination (and having a female submissive partner). The first, Pennywise, meme, subverts the plotline by altering the text (in written, not spoken form), the second one does so by inserting a new still, of Zizek in bed, sitting proud in front of a picture of Stalin.

The joke? The dangers of communism as spectre and Zizek as controversial character.

Bottom Leftist Memes does something rather different. It is one of the few pages on FB that I have encountered that explicitly discusses (gay and submissive) sex and desire within a left anarchist political context. Its content features often the page admin’s own graphic drawings, besides some reposting, some other memes and some political commentary. The posts for some time feature a text description of the images which is thoughtful, hilarious and a tech commentary on the inability of FB to provide appropriate text captioning for its image (i.e. there is a commentary about accessibility contained in these.

I use an example which isn’t sexually explicit, for others, go and visit the page.

The post reads:

CW discussion of violence; poorly drawn Nazi symbolism]
What are you getting so worked up about
[ Image description: Drawings of a person wearing a red swastika armband and heiling; a person with a 1488 forehead tattoo; a sharply-dressed guy with a suit and tie and a Pepe the Frog pin; a person wearing a KKK hood; somebody waving a Kekistan flag; some kid wearing a Pepe mask and holding an anime girl body pillow; and a guy wearing a red baseball cap that I was too lazy to write MAGA on but you know that’s what it’s supposed to be. Text reads: “Hahaha don’t you feel silly? 6 out of these 7 “quote-unquote” “”””NAZIS”””” are only joking, and only one of them would actually beat you to death with a baseball bat in real life. Have fun guessing which one! ]





Vapid inspirations and artificial intelligence

Vapid Daily is a page that composes and circulates vapid inspirational quotes (not) on a daily basis.

I only see these occasionally in my feed, their overblown visuals and the trashy font type generally make me smile, the text often is painfully accurate. They are clearly carefully constructed as such.

Late June I came across a bot that is designed to provide inspirational quotes, inspirobot.me . I came across it as there as a fair bit of media coverage as to the nonsensical, often offensive nature of its inspirational quotes, of getting it wrong how a meme, an inspiration works.










I generated a few quotes here and there, and over the past fortnight started to do so more systematically, with a friend setting a shared facebook album to collect (via screenshot a few of these). The album is called bat rum (once), a word play on bot romance, as the aspect of romance, desire and social interaction was one that initially interested me most. With some of the memes being so offensive and rude, I soon set up a second, more private album called bot romance (the m files), m standing for misogyny, morals and mother (?). My friend and I would generally share our finds via messenger, I would often upload them to be shared with her and my friends. A comment a few days ago pointed to the narcissist, individualised, neoliberal logic of many of the quotes, but also that our posting was needing a trigger warning: you are about to be hit on the head with some neoliberal inspirational sledgehammer. This exchange led me to the following as GIF (though the format is strictly an MP4, a video, but it consists of two images, one a myriad of inspirobot images, too small to be read, yet relentless, the other one a simple phone drawing about the need to be inspired.









Ironically, while each of the inspirobot memes gets some likes, noone has liked my meme so far 😮 — or: perhaps not ironically but fairly fittingly.


Facebook as research as part of digital identities

This posts spells out the key themes of enquiry I pursued for the digital identities section of this module (i.e. Assignment 4 & 5).

How and for what do I use FB?

Over the almost two years that I have been using FB frequently, and the past 10 months during which it became an explicit research tool for the lines of connection and disconnection between private and public, between biography, confession and fiction, and between various forms of material, media, registers, my use has changed. In part, this was clearly also due to FB’s own changes, notably the integration and disintegration between FB and messenger.

Over that period also messenger, which until then as a DM interface that I generally wouldn’t pay attention to moved decisively to be my DM tool of choice: notably due to its easy integration of GIFs and sticker packs it allows for a form of communication that is quick and media-rich, SMS or Whatsapp moved to much less important roles than they had played in previous years. It also mirrored a change in who would be frequent contacts and the preferred platform between us. So, for all intents and purposes, when I talk about FB here, I will also include the messenger app.

In terms of my own posts, around 50% consists of photos or videos (the latter only perhaps 5% of these posts); 30% are posts that provide links/ repost materials or comment on these, 20% are original writing pieces of myself. The latter almost exclusively only address Close Friends; perhaps half of the image posts goes to all friends, the other to minus acquaintances (also called good friends, which reduces the cohort by c40%); I reckon the reposts have a similar distribution between all friends or minus acquaintances. The boundaries between these last two groups are changeable, only recently I moved a fair number of good friends to acquaintances; while prior to that most art contacts would become good friends, most older, more infrequent or academic contacts would remain acquaintances. In general, good friends are those that I have a form of fairly frequent contact with (either offline or through online interactions).

The remainder of this post consists of four sections:

a. a summary of FB posts
b. FB timeline as sketchbook
c. the role of boundaries and differentiated publics in facebook (the ways of transgressing)
d. anxiety of absence / fear of missing out





a. summary of posts

The first foray into the relevance of FB for this module, I set up a collection of posts from my timeline to give a sense of themes and formats of discussion, and how the materials that form the basis for A4 and A5 circulated through FB

Facebook posts relating to this assignment which can sit in this blog’s public (amending as I go along).
A first outline as to some themes relating to online/offline; public/private for this project are in this previous post.

These are collected in this blog post here

currently: 19 Feb – 8 March (possibly some before, some after?); perhaps a total of 7-10 posts.

b. as sketchbook

the section of this post that i am writing last, and yet the most frequently employed use of a FB post for me: i take it to test out thoughts, ideas in a form that push them a couple of steps further from noting in my journal: i do not only type them up but submit them to a limited public. in this sense, my FB timeline, certainly the section in which i limit publicness to  minus acquaintances or even more so, to close friends friends, applies a form of discipline to test what holds up of my thoughts. so, in many ways, one of the most frequent FB uses of mine is actually revisiting my on timeline and re-reading, retracing earlier posts. i don’t tend to alter them, i also don’t tend to hide from the timeline these written posts (while i frequently remove older photos, which after that will only live in their respective albums). what i however often do is that i amend, add, qualify or take further thoughts in earlier posts by adding comments. so, quite a few posts have acquired comments only by myself.

as a sketchbook, the publicness often does not work so much in others commenting online but the post providing a reference point in a face-to-face conversation. about half the people in my close friends list are people i meet often, so, for them (and us) the posting means that there is a topic, a particular perspective to consider, to refer to, to discuss, to amend or alter.

FB is however severely limited in this purpose: it is difficult to export (exporting means losing all comments and all media links embedded in a post), its search function is rather limited (i need to remember a word within the post, even hashtags are not found consistently but only reference a selection of the set that has the hashtag applied).

besides text posts, i use the posting photos (and less videos) functions a lot: even more so, once i had decided that instagram wasn’t working too well for me. so, there are some days in which i rather extensively will map, trace, narrate what i will do and see. i remain ambiguous for whose purposes that is: to assure my own presence, movement to myself? or what in there is also to show off, to affirm, to confirm, and at points confuse as to what it is that i am up to?

c. the role of boundaries and differentiated publics in facebook (the ways of transgressing)

as posted to Close Friends on 9 December 2016:
[altered as to a further name change; alteration of the list of off-topic subjects]

FB circles, in/out groups, confidentiality and off-limit items:

I have in two contexts now discussed in more detail the boundaries of my using my FB timeline as an online sketchbook or notebook.
One discussion involved two who have seen and often engaged with the posts of the past few months (both online and offline); the other one was with two where one of these is not on FB, the other has not been part of the group to which #pondpiecenotes and after posted to.

There are various issues that these two discussions raised for me. The first concern is about in/group out/group through these selective postings (notably: the selective enclosure of the particular audience. I had thought about this as to inclusion as being fairly easily undone on part of the reader: to overlook, to hide or to unfollow; the exclusion is more complex, notably when mutual friends are inside the audience, like posts or comments, which pushes notifications to their own friends’s feeds… which at once pierces my own attempts to bound who gets to see what I write; but also alerts mutual friends that possibly other conversations are going that they are not party too). There is more to this and I will likely return to it.
The second concern, which I considered in more detail yesterday, was raised as question if there are themes that are off-topic. My response was in several stages, and in hindsight I realise just how much I veil my responses. I responded as to how I proceed to judge if a post holds or not, so I generally move ahead in a series of steps and then assess my relationship to it and adjust, it’s rather practical and involved. It is also in some way true to my attitude towards a priori lists, which I do not find easy to take serious nor follow. I then also provided a positive inclusion list rather than one of exclusion.
However, yesterday I then arrived at my off-topic items, of which there are numerous. By refusing to acknowledge that they exist in the first place, I drew another layer of curtain over them to protect them once further. But, with the recent piercing of this list through the post about R., it may be worthwhile spelling some of these out:
Items that I have not written about nor intend to write about in posts:
– anything concerning current desires and involvements with people around the matters that I discuss;
– all posted accounts about my own experiences of (sexualised) violence were fairly contained in the transition between childhood/adolescence. I have not posted about any of my later encounters and relationships in which consent or violence were issues;
– …
– most of the items I write about I write about at a time that they are resolved: hence, even if I use present tense for several notes, they are not contemporary but usually an ex-post reflection.
Where these boundaries lie and how they manifest is at points and as I move along somewhat fluid. As for the fourth item about resolution, this became apparent in post #2 from a couple of days ago (R. in my flat and expectations of violence): I posted it initially at a point when I was really caught out by it, it was incredibly present and I didn’t know at the point of posting on how to move with it. I removed the post as it was too unresolved, and moved it into a discussion with a close friend. This had once before occurred in relation to a post after the US election: again, the post was raw in its upset and I felt too exposed with it on my timeline, I removed it and raised it once in a conversation, which was a much better place for it to be held.
That I exposed my relationship with R. unsettled me and made me revisit this list of ‘protected relationships, items, concerns’; I can trace the need for exposure around the sense that suddenly the violence seemed to be deposited in my flat and left with me as a secret (or rather: amidst the context of various secrets). It also sits in the line where I respond with my own violence in situations where I perceive myself to be under threat (as in an earlier post between aunt, mother and myself). As such, it sits in the effects of how my experiences of patriarchal violence are more often between women rather than men>woman. There were a couple of occasions where my intent to protect also similarly pierced or transgressed; and this isn’t helped with the setting of a networked form of notebook where transgression and blurring boundaries is pretty much design of the medium and intent.
I also realise that the form in which I discuss concerns reflects my intent to conceal and veil existing relationships and concerns: it follows some of the arrangements over anonymity that were in place in the coaching training: ‘you can talk about anything here as far as it affects you, your experience; as soon as you would need to use someone else’s name, you are outside your own experience and should refrain from raising it.’ It was a rule that people applied in different forms and often topic of conversation as to how to proceed. It also means that in consequence I started to talk rather a lot about myself, my own feelings, actions, sensations, signals, perceptions; and I have kept that format. It makes for a self-centred account, one seemingly (actually?) intent on defining, aligning, negotiating, one’s self. And yet, I don’t think I am all that much interested in my self but in the relationships it constructs with the world, how its constitution tells me something about the world, lets me experience the world and others. So, the auto-ethnographic accounting in some ways is a reflection on the need for secrecy and veiling. And I will carry that thought a little longer with me.

d. anxiety of absence and fear of missing out

one of the most intriguing and vexing aspects of the FB related activity is a realisation of just how quickly the platform has become affectively effective: it draws me in, it wants me to spend time, to look at my things, at those of my friends. it even is successful in me seeking likes, affective approval, engagement and in my retrospective questioning if i misstepped, misjudged, transgressed unduly.

below is a post that i drafted but never posted after i one tried to exit the platform (rather unsuccessfully) in mid-March:

[undated, possibly first week of April]

[I was reading a post about grief on E.’s timeline: it was about shipwrecks, the love that preceeded each shipwreck and the scars they will leave. it had something also about the 100ft waves that engulf you, that turn 80ft waves, that become more infrequent, that you may discern at a distance about to engulf you.
so, that Friday i saw such a wave coming ahead. it gave me about 12 hours notice. i told A. how i felt tender and triggered again. about the usual stuff. about stuff that i wanted to write about and yet wasn’t sure what the form of writing about was going to be and what site was there to be for writing about.
… a series of observations of the theme of sexual violence that I omit here … These three threads mingled with three incidences in my own life, when I was 17, 27 and 36. They seek attention, if not resolution. And I wasn’t trusting myself in how I was using my timeline or FB more generally at that moment in time.

So I departed, alongside no caffeine, no cigarettes and no food. I had the sense that no FB and no nicotine would be the hardest, but strangely, the cigarettes didn’t concern me, the absence of caffeine gave me a headache a couple of times over the week that I was fasting, a little breakfast tea took care of it. What however didn’t work at all was the FB absence, by Monday morning I was missing the sticker packs, I was missing the photos going back and forth in one conversation. By Tuesday I was beginning to realise that so much of my current work meshes with my FB timeline and my saved links, that I went to look things up. Furthermore, I had on the way to a different office encountered the homeless person who was just found dead outside one of the shop windows; it was one of the few deaths I have come into contact with unexpectedly and it threw the overwhelm that the FB feed sometimes presents me with right next to my body walking through town, so the FB absence seemed to not serve that purpose of distance and detachment.

So, rather than a week or two, I managed to stay away for 36 hours only; FB was still sending me emails over stuff that it was wanting me to look at, notably messages. It was continously stoking my anxiety over missing out, being out of reach. It was curious to see how effectively it would feed that, and I realise that while addiction isn’t too often an issue for me, this was quite hard, harder than I thought. And nonetheless, those 36 hours were long enough for me not too feel those waves crushing down on me quite so hard; by the time I was starting to look at FB again, without posting, the need to expose and proclaim had passed somewhat too. I hadn’t sat down to write about the 3×3 of above in a different format yet.]
<< not posted.

at some point in June FB introduces a new feature in its gamification of posting (as it has done for some time about checking in, reviewing page content etc.), it now congratulated me that i had posted 88 continuous days, and: that my friends were responding. I got mortified: what? had I posted every single day since that 36 hrs departure? it took me about another week for reaching a day of not posting.


A4: site 1 trial sets

I have started to narrow down my selection for the assignment sets.

I find I am fairly slow working through this material, and for the past 10 days I have not looked at the images but instead worked with my notes, some other textual materials and begun to settle on ways in which text (what form? what register? what content) can accompany this material in its current form. I found this way of working was useful, even though it slowed me down beyond my current submission date.

So, tonight, I returned to the Lightroom sets and begun working through it. While there is a vast amount of source images, I don’t necessarily anticipate the various segments to include a large number each.

So, this is the site which chronologically started the series: Partick Cross and observations of my (divergent) shadows while waiting for the traffic light. This led to a series of movement studies (both in video and burst mode).

The boundedness on a sheet is arbitrary for this blog post: I see them sitting on a wall (and leading on and out of the other segments).

This is a selection of the images, in slightly different arrangments:

[I am conscious that my discussion of this project is rather piecemeal, I will likely have to go back to re-articulate, combine some of the research stage posts, yet for the time being it seems fitting to me]

Partick x trial sheet 1
Partick Cross arrangement 1
Partick x trial sheet 2
Partick Cross arrangement 2

Studio SMACK (2016) Paradise and Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (c1495-1505)


Seeing this animation first time a couple of weeks ago, the FB feed has reintroduced me, just as I had come back from my fielwork for taking analog images for the current assignment.

This time round, I looked more closely at Bosch’s original painting and some of its interpretations: earthly sin, the fall of (wo)man; notions of earthly pleasure or innocence, or in fact an ironic commentary on the Habsburg Empire’s pursuits of earthly delights.

What interests me in this?

  • the contemporary interpretation in format/medium as digital animation of one the key pieces in the Western art historical canon
  • the overflowing mess and abundance of the imagery, its animation and the inability to take it all in.
  • the theme of pleasure/desire

All these, in different forms are relevant to my current assignment work.

I ordered a recent publication on Bosch’s original work, mainly for the high quality reproductions of the details in the painting and a sense of current state of interpretation of this work which has been interpreted so vastly differently over time.

I will update this post with some more research details as they emerge.

Below a high resolution image of Bosch’s original work (source: https://uploads6.wikiart.org/images/hieronymus-bosch/the-garden-of-earthly-delights-1515-7.jpg)



Viviane Sassen: UMBRA, The Shadow Panel Discussion

– Stephanie suggested this recent panel discussion, as part of Viviane Sassen’s current Umbra exhibition in Chicago in her comment on my first set of negatives.

“Viviane Sassen: UMBRA, The Shadow Panel discussion where experts from a variety of disciplines discussed ways in which the idea of the shadow figures into their professional practice. Mary Dougherty, Jungian psychoanalyst and art psychotherapist; Dr. Andrew Johnson, Vice President of Astronomy and Collections at the Adler Planetarium; Chicago-based author of Heartbreaker Maryse Meijer, and Myra Su, a narrative artist specializing in storytelling through puppetry and live theater, will join Sassen in a series of short presentations”

Watching it, I took a series of notes.

First off: I really enjoyed the interdisciplinary range of presenters, their varied styles and contributions. I thought that was really special in expanding on Sassen’s work (which I only looked up at a point throughout the discussion).

Some notes:

  • Myra Su’s demonstration of shadow puppetry, notably working with a projector. She contends that colours is also shadow; that the more opaque something is, the clearer it becomes.
  • Mary Dougherty, a Jungian analyst and art therapists, gives an excellent introduction into Jung’s concept of the shadow for personal development.
  • Andrew Johnson examines the role of shadow for solar eclipses
  • Maryse Meijer reads a children’s book about a school anxious first day at school and then a short story she wrote about a shadow house.

I have a strong sense that the psycho-dynamic aspect of shadow work is significant in this body of work.

I also sense that my upcoming venture into screenprinting will provide something further into the role of shadows: possibly the presentation on shadow puppetry and the role of colour in this will provide insight.

I have ordered Sassen’s Prestel edition of Umbra to explore this further. I am not overly familiar with her work, and while I am aware of a fair bit of her fashion photography, her more conceptual work is largely unknown to me. The Umbra series on her website is rather formal in utilising coloured perspex/glass, sand and her hands; but probably will present an interesting and very different aspect on the role of shadows. Hers are stark, strong, clearly delineated, occur in broad daylight. Mine are more transient, murky, hardly discernible on a nighttime. I think these distinctions will help me.

There is something in the interdisciplinarity of the panel that pulls me in considerably. I would almost like to provide such disparate aspects for this work: to draw in different elements and install them around a theme (rather than fully integrate).

Contextual FB discussions relating to Assignment 4

Facebook posts relating to this assignment which can sit in this blog’s public (amending as I go along).

A first outline as to some themes relating to online/offline; public/private for this project are in this previous post.

Gesa Helms 10 March at 21:44 ·[posted to Close Friends]

tonight’s discussion of public boundaries:
– Gesa, it looks like you’re unfolding and doing much more on important things on FB
– Hm… that is in part because you’re back in my close friends list, I had removed you for the past six months and you are now included again.
– Ah… okay….
An hour later:
– But, Gesa, something has changed nonetheless
– Okay then.

k. priceless…in so many dimensions…
Gesa Helms
Gesa Helmshahaha, you mean Mastercard would not be my friend here?
Gesa Helms
Gesa Helmsoh… i told him your comment re hair/dress too, so he wasn’t all wrong 😉
k. hahahahaa…i read it and if you don’t know who the OTHER is, it has so many layers…it’s like a crime scene…i would continue to read the book or play …
Gesa Helms
Gesa Helmshehehe… let me consider the crime then… good idea…

Here are some of the text fragments from the first third of Gilligan’s Birth of Pleasure that I am considering as coming into the #noshadows work.
I am not sure they will feature as actual texts in this but in some sense help me organise/select/focus the work.
They are still fairly sprawling. They also help me refocusing the notion of ‘secrets’ in this.
I remain very taken with her retelling of Cupid, Psyche and Pleasure; but my usual hesitation to work explicitly with art h…

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she told me about the pockets. how everyone was now afraid of what may be in those pockets. in their pockets. the pockets you may not quite know if they were there or not. and if they did exist, what would they conceal. what weapons would they hide. what hands would they keep warm. how would you know.

I am not quite sure what I titled this as: it was a room in cheap accommodation in north London at some point in Spring 2010. It was a single bedroom, shared bathrooms and very noisy heating pipes. I stayed for about a week there, the nearest tube was Mornington Crescent. In the kitchen, there were women from all over the world, many doing some kind of training course, many doing cheap work, many of them stayed far longer than that week.
The print is essentially a monotype, I scored cardboard, can’t quite remember how I did the yellow layer but it was similarly improvised, I pulled a single print of it only, the cardboard would have given me possibly another five before it would have come undone.
I will stay in the same beige hotel as I did a couple of months ago; somewhat reluctantly so, somewhat curious. It is close to the park, offers a single room where I can leave my camera gear, the hostel would have been similarly expensive for the night in question and added 50mins walk in either direction with gear.
And, then there is of course the part of me that is intensely curious why that room was rather weird the first time round. Now I have a few 6×6 exposures to test that out in more detail (all on Ektar, so it will produce highly saturated beiges).


Gesa Helms hahaha… of course these individual posts function very much like a digital shadow: they come, they go; they are not visible from many angles (in many feeds) but in others they are. So, as much as I dislike the limited depository function of my timeline (all the deletions; i generally search by the most unusual expression that I use for any post, which means I need to remember the phrasing I use for a post in the first place), the fleetingness is rather apt…

First play with printouts:

the first prints have arrived and I started to assemble them on the wall.

a. a grid of the grasses:


b. a first playful grouping of various from across the three other ‘groups’:


I had started with the Gallery Shadows and the Roadwork, and then added the night shadow images as and where they seemed to fit, replaced a few of the others. Nothing meaningful/ explicit so far, more a sense of seeing them next to each other. A few of the smaller groupings are here in close up:

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