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UCLA Students Explore Memes in the Modern Era

The internet, what a beautiful thing.

Condensed Energy from Adam Ferriss on Vimeo. All images courtesy the artists

Over the last week, a handful of UCLA's Design Media Arts (DMA) students came together to take over The Broad Art Center's New Wight Gallery with rare meme, a group exhibition that questions the web culture, realities, and phenomena we spread through the ever-evolving and mutating digital realm we call 'The Internet'. Both injecting and taking advantages of these online-based specificities into their creative processes, Adam Ferriss, Jesse R. Fleming, Hsinyu Lin, Peter Lu, Neil Mendoza, and Theo Triantafyllidis unveil never-seen-before series of works that breathe life into an intentionally disorienting exhibition quasi-reminiscent of Richard Dawkins' theories.

Organised by DMA and curated by multi-disciplinarian professor Erkki Huhtamo, the wide-ranged exhibition provides viewers with both immaterial and tangible artworks, filling an environment with videos, installations, prints, software, custom hardware, live performances, and even an interactive long noodle. The experience explores the zeitgeist of popular-culture and the neverending mechanics of the meme in a subtle, smart, and wholly contradictory way.

Adam Ferriss’ Condensed Energy offers a unique (seemingly morphing) open Frameworks-created custom software, powered by a seam-carving algorithm that decomposes and condenses celebrity images, frame by frame, starting with each picture's least noticeable pixel. Meanwhile, Neil Mendoza tackles the problematic in a different way, combinating electronics, metal, and eggs. Mendoza’s one-of-a-kind pendulum, Eggsistenial Angst, questions balance and survival with its mesmerising knee-jerk motion.

Eggsistenial Angst by Neil Mendoza

Foxconn by Hsinyu Lin

With a seamless video loop, Hsinyu Lin offers a tour into Foxconn CEO Terry Gou’s imagined dream. Western sci-fi imagery meets the realities of the Chinese electronics manufacturing industry, fusing into an uncanny audiovisual journey. Taking a totally different approach, Theo Triantafyllidis presents TL;DR [the shape of the internet (Orgy)], a playful interactive installation that places viewers at the heart of a colorful AV environment. The intensity and patterns of the wall projections are generated by viewers' motions and behaviors thanks to a custom wireless game controller with 14 sensors mounted on a noodle-like giant worm.

TL;DR [the shape of the internet (Orgy)] by Theo Triantafyllidis

Freshman Mushroom Project by Peter Lu

Peter Lu's Freshman Mushroom Project plunges attendees into the heart of a discomforting, autobiograpical live performance that examines sexuality.

A Going and Return from Jesse R. Fleming on Vimeo.

Last but certainly not least, Jesse Fleming showcases a two-part piece. Prelude to CYCLE is an installation comprised of a parachute, an industrial fan, a microcontroller, sounds, mats, and a video, and as the title suggests, serves as the introduction to Fleming's, CYCLE, an intensive 12-hour multisensory performance that merges music, meditation, regeneration, visual projections, food, and drinks.

Prelude to CYCLE by Jesse Fleming

Prelude to CYCLE by Jesse Fleming

Condensed Energy by Adam Ferriss

TL;DR [the shape of the internet (Orgy)] by Theo Triantafyllidis

Foxconn by Hsinyu Lin

Although rare meme ended as quickly as it came (the show was on display from October 15–23), one thing is certain: show after show, UCLA students continue to demonstrate the strong and relevant potential of the DMA program. Click here to learn more about rare meme

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