Is Art Changing Or Are We Just Throwing A Few Pixels In The Mix?

Following on from intellectual property, and the notion of creative texts being online easier to access. I will move onto art. Dadaism is known as art against art, with Marcel Duchamp at the front line who claimed that the “creative act is not performed by the artist alone and the the viewer also brings something to the art.” For instance the clip below of John Cage’s famous 4 minutes 33, exudes this example perfectly where there is not much to look at as such, but evokes discussion and comprises many elements into an art form.

This characteristic can be compared to various other forms of art such as the fluxus movement where it pushed boundaries of what art can be. What I find interesting is how similar some of the examples of fluxus movements are to internet technology of today. For example with Mail Art allows people to join in with ease.

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 Example of Mail Art

Additionally another movement that holds similar trait to these is the computer art, where Lopes describes the movement as very engaging, the use of interactivity and even claims that “Without a doubt, computers have changed art and the practice of art” (2010:xiii). Below is an example whereby it pushes the definition of what is art (Lopes, 2010).

So where does that leave us now? As art is constantly developing and thriving, and with the new development of Web 2.0, there is now the explosion of internet memes, whereby the dictionary defines it as…

Picture 1

 This explosion of the new aesthetic is described as “participatory culture” (Jenkins, 1992) whereby the success of a meme (as described) depends on how viral it can spread.

Picture 5

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Example of popular memes (such as Almost Politically Correct Red Neck as shown here) are shown on the website Know Your Meme who also include a chart showing how popular and how viral a meme has spread.

This of course invites cynics who do not consider internet memes as the new art form, and perhaps with the birth of technology, we have become less creative and rely on computers to become creative for us.

 However, perhaps this is too cynical, and the new aesthetic is far more creative than we give credit to. Internet memes are comparable to the Mail Art movement as demonstrated previously. Jenkins describes participatory culture to having “relatively low barriers to artistic expression (…), strong support for creating and sharing creations with others (…), members who believe that their contributions matter and members who feel the same degree of social connection with one another” (2009:5). This is clearly seen with Mail Art , whereby people can take on a different position within this art form (creating and viewing) showing their appreciation of this art development. Mail Art promotes people joining in as the art goes viral to places. But…Is this not seen with Internet Memes? Perhaps, they are not that different? Especially as they are very easy to create now with certain websites. Burges points out that due to the internet, creativity can be far more “DIY, free-for-all” (2009:95). If we were to turn our nose up on Internet Memes we should question previous art movements and evaluate if they are really all too different.

With glitches also taking over reminding us that we are in a technology soaked culture where by we can immediately recognize these effects, Russell Davies describes this as “culturally agnostic”. So perhaps this is an art form in itself, whereby it defines our culture and we can relate to it. Or as Sterling, who compares the Internet Memes to the dada movement, describes the New Aesthetic as a positive movement to encourage collective intelligence.


Artlyst. (2009). Dada; A movement of artists against art.. Available: Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Burgess, Jean (2009). YouTube : online video and participatory culture. Cambridge: Polity.

Jackson, Robert. (2012). The Banality of The New Aesthetic. Available: Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Jenkins, Henry (2009). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. USA: The MIT Press.

Jenkins, Henry (2013). Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (Postmillennial Pop). New York: New York University Press .

Lopes, Dominic (2009). A Philosophy of Computer Art. London: Routledge.

Paik, Nam June. (2013). Fluxus, Performance, Participation. Available: Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Davies quoted by Rhizome. (2012). RECOMMENDED READING: An Essay on the New Aesthetic. Available: Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Rocola, Robert . (2004). Spark John Held Jr.. Available: Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Sorrel, Charlie. (2013). Forget Fake Film Effects: Glitché Adds Fake Digital Glitches To Your iPhoneography. Available: Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

Sterling, Bruce. (2012). An Essay on the New Aesthetic. Available: Last accessed 11 Dec 2013.

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1 Response to Is Art Changing Or Are We Just Throwing A Few Pixels In The Mix?

  1. Pingback: Are Lolcats and Memes art? | Cameron D

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