i was charged with coming up with a project that was about memes, and interacted with the outside world. i don't love getting 2 philosophical about memes, not because i think they don't deserve it, and not because i think they 'are just jokes' i'm just not great at talking that way, and i think they are more direct and inherently powerful than a description of their direct inherent power.
my first impulse was to set up a 'meme checkpoint', like you see online, but out in public, like maybe set up a table and see if i could get people to show me the last meme they had on their phone. before even trying i scrapped the idea because first of all checkpoints feel super agressive and fascist n whatnot, and also there's no incentive to participate, also i imagined it would look super corny to people passing by. when i considered i would receive a budget for the project it helped shift the concept towards giving people a dollar if they showed me a meme they had on their phone. i would take a pic of the meme, and then, with permission, a picture of the contributor with their new dollar. even though a dollar may be insignificant, the promise invited strangers to participate a little more openly. it still probably looked pretty corny, but hopefully goofily inviting and nonconfrontational. of course introducing money and consequently the EXCHANGE thereof expands the implications of the interaction to probably mean something pretty important about culture, economics, technology, taste, class, race, humor, gender, age, censorship, ART/ collection, the role of gallery/curator, privacy and so forth but ill leave those conclusions up to the REAL intellectual: the girl reading this : >
the pictures you see are the memes i paid to see, some from setting up a station in public, and some is inadvertently a documentation of the people in my own life who had memes on their phones while i had singles on hand.
Where to set up was a huge question, i wanted somewhere there would b foot traffic, and a wide range of demographics. also the question of where can one be at all was not insignificant, i live in minneapolis, and setting up in public almost exclusively meant setting up out doors. during the period of my project, temperatures were largely 10 degrees or colder (my biggest day actually had 40 mph winds and was like negative 10 or some shit), so it really fucked up my chances of catching people walking around. also the whole endeavor of being in 'public' and soliciting the public sorta rides a line of being embarrassing but also made me a liiiittle scared about getting in trouble but im not really out there challenging the system or status quo or whatnot so i figure if i get asked to leave i would and that's really the worst it could get, i imagine the stunt would have been much harder and more risky overall were i not a pretty normal looking white guy with the unwarranted access and trust that comes with it.
my first place i tried was in front of the Apple Store in uptown, or actually next door the permanently abandoned Suburban World facade. it was roughly zero degrees and terrible. after an hour one person actually interacted but their uber or something pulled up before she found the meme she wanted to show and left. so i tried hopping inside Calhoun square which is a small indoor mall, and i set up and quickly got a contribution but they requested no picture, and then a security came over and said i couldn't be doing this without talking to management first. all good, the last thing i wanted was to push any buttons, or cause any sorta drama, i'm just trying to see some people's memes and give away my stipend. i realize i probably decided to try to give it away because id probably feel 2 guilty being paid to take pictures of other people's content. ah well. any ways the next spot was indoors in the downtown skyways, an indoor network of heated passages. i was hesitant to go downtown at all, specifically i did not want to set up near by people who were simultaneously sincerely asking for money, because i did not want our juxtaposition to read as commentary. i did not want people to choose between giving a dollar to someone who desperately needs it or getting a dollar from an attention starved loser doing a ☆project☆. also why didnt i just make my project 'give money to people who need money'? great point! a good project might have been venmoing heavy hitter meme makers i like who are really Going Through It. next time! but i found a crossing that wasn't being used and set up. this location had an older demographic, less people who knew about memes or had them on their phones. many said No Thanks without even reading the sign. but a few folks did participate! maybe 30 minutes in, two security came by and said i couldn't be doing that here unless i spoke to the management. they said they liked memes but didn't have any on their phones. so i moved on.
the spot you'll c most is on the washington avenue bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge between the campuses of the university of minnesota. i figured, there will HAVE to b foot traffic, there will b a range of ages, though likely younger, probably have phones, probably on social media, probably like memes (it's not like a special trait) and it's a fairly international student body, though it largely restricts the sample size to folks who are in college and what that implies financially.
i guess all else i have to say is some of the memes are good, some are so bad i felt guilty giving them money for it, but also feel like seeing shitty memes is a big part of 'meme culture' and i guess Life in a way. i felt a little gross being out in public and making people who just want to walk without interacting with people feel uncomfortable. i wish i figured out what i wanted to do earlier so i could have started gathering them during a warmer part of year. ideally i wanted more younger folks, and also more older folks, but ultimately im pretty satisfied with how much of a 'portrait' project it became, im not really a photographer like at ALL but i like the fun of seeing the meme and then the person. plus an alternative reading of this 'BoDy Of WoRk' i guess would be sort of like a Prank where i pay people to let me take an unflattering picture with a android camera "lmao" oh also included are the pictures i took of ME trying to make pictures for the ads we were to make to promote the project, i think they are sorta funny as a set and might make U laugh♡
tl;dr i gave people a dollar to show me a meme