Who screams for memes? We all scream for memes.

What is a meme? Is it a parody, a construct to make people laugh – or is it something so much more than that – most of the time a message made easier, more compact for easier societal reception. Mediums used to send messages to passive or active audiences are dependant on how much attention these audiences want to pay, and most of the time we are looking at messages and interpreting them without even realising. What about the goal? For example, when historical art is appropriated or recreated in the form of a meme or a parody, how much of the original content and message follows with it, and is that what the goal is? Artist Edvard Munch actively sent messages to his audiences through his artworks. ‘The Scream’, a painting created in a time of expressionism to show his emotions was described by this creator as being an embodiment of “air turned to blood.”

However, when this same work is recreated as a meme with the purpose of a different conveyed idea, how much of the original message is still there and what is the purpose? Audiences will still take something from a meme recreation of an artwork – especially an active audience who in this instance is likely to be someone who takes understanding of the original artwork and how they interpreted that, and then apply it to the recreation to interpret the new meaning and the message. Even if the message conveyed through paradoxical images and memes isn’t visible it will always be interpreted by the medium. In the form of a meme based on an artwork it can often be perceived as a joke or an ‘ironic’ way of sending ideas and intentions with some reference to the original artwork and it’s meaning and therefore, the medium is the message.


Cohen, J. (2015). The Art of Parody: Imitation With a Twist | The Artifice. [online] The-artifice.com. Available at: http://the-artifice.com/the-art-of-parody/ [Accessed 17 Mar. 2017].

Edvardmunch.org. (2011). Art Analysis: Meaning of The Scream by Edvard Munch. [online] Available at: http://www.edvardmunch.org/link.jsp [Accessed 17 Mar. 2017].


2 thoughts on “Who screams for memes? We all scream for memes.

  1. sunnycommandeur says:

    ‘Good artists borrow, great artists steal’ – does this mean making art memes make you better than the original artist? Probably not, but I think that adjusting the meaning of something, – particularly when the meaning is reversed, is the height of comedy.
    You are definitely right about the nature of a meme positioning the content as a joke – why else would the meme exist otherwise?
    Enjoyed the read, but the blocks of text are a little hard to focus on all at once. Its clear you’ve been blogging for a while though.


  2. Nate Foster says:

    Your focus on ‘the audience’ that flows throughout this post is so interesting. The link back to the idea that an individual’s existing understanding of a topic (framework of knowledge) – such as that of classic art, like the piece in your meme, can ultimately create the meaning behind their interpretation of a new piece of ‘art’ in say meme form, is crazy.
    Utilising world-renowned artwork as an example of a medium, to express McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message” was genius, definitely aids in helping those who may not completely understand what McLuhan was getting at.


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