La Chronique de Pauline Auzou #1
After two years in Sydney working for the magazine Dazed & Confused, after a collaboration with VU’ agency, Pauline Auzou is working today for the cooperative Picture Tank. She wants to write the story of the photography through the prism of the internet.
1. The Work of Art in the Age of Comical Reproduction
Photography distinguished itself from other arts in that it could be reproduced, infinitely. On the Internet, there is a type of image that also reproduces itself infinitely, spreading across the web at a maddening pace. Reproducibility 2.0 has a name: memes.
The term “meme” describes an image, video or idea that catches on with Internet users and goes viral, for no logical reason. The images are hijacked, most of the time humorously, by users who spend their time making memes. The modified images then get passed on to become web sensations.
How can a harmless image become a meme? There seems to be little method to their creators’ madness. Here are a few of the memes passed on to posterity. (We’ll spare you the ubiquitous LOLcats.)
In May 2010, a paparazzo from the Splash agency took a picture of the actor Keanu Reeves as he sat on a bench eating a sandwich. A few days later, the “Sad Keanu” phenomenon was born. The photograph would be subjected to manipulation by Internet users across the world.
A more recent meme is Mr. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. On March 31, 2012, an image from a marathon in South Carolina was put on Flickr by the amateur photographer Will King, who caught a picture of Zeddie Little, one of the runners, grinning from ear to ear. Little did he know the picture would soon go around the world.
The Internet meme can be created, without any particular logic, out of everything and (especially) anything. So who knows if the harmless picture of your picnic with grandma that you put on your blog will be the buzz of next week?