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MemeFactory Performance at OVC2010

This year’s OVC will host a MemeFactory performance all about viral internet videos.

A meme is a cultural message that gets shared and expands as it is passed from person to person. Some memes—like the famous Rick Roll—have cemented their place in internet lore, with a vocabulary and humor all their own. Others may leave you scratching your head.

That’s where MemeFactory comes in. MemeFactory is a whirlwind tour of web culture: three guys operating three projection screens, triptych-style. Your tour guides will introduce you to hundreds of memes over the course of an hour, providing breathless narration throughout.

A MemeFactory performance is an hour of sensory overload, but it’s fast, fun, and informative.

We talked with Stephen Bruckert, Patrick Davison, and Mike Rugnetta of MemeFactory to hear a little more about the group’s interests and their plans for OVC. Read on for their interview.

What is MemeFactory about?

MemeFactory: MemeFactory is a performance lecture about internet media trends. What that boils down to is that we’ve found an excuse to show funny pictures of cats and videos of people doing silly dances to an audience for 45 minutes or so.

The performance is very heavily structured around the media fragments we’ve collected. We’re aiming to show the audience that not only is there a ton of collaboratively produced media on the internet, but that it’s also all really interrelated, and actually kind of an important part of our current cultural situation.

And also, [it’s] about being funny. Really the main point is that its funny.

Why do you do it?

MF: Secretly, the show was 100% spawned from the idea [that] it would be really fun to make this and share it with our friends. Being that we’re big internet dorks, we have this basically endless supply of esoteric inside jokes, and we wanted to share with everyone. To let everyone in on the joke.

But it didn’t take us too long into creating the first MemeFactory to realize that the emergence of a real, active digital culture says some interesting things about our position in history. It might seem a little high-falutin’ but we really think the model of collaboration exhibited by Anonymous and other online communities is something which will have a profound effect in real life.

What role does audience participation play in your research and performances?

MF: The idea that anyone in the audience, any Joe Internet—regardless of their Photoshop experience or lack thereof—can be the creator of an awesome, influential and most importantly hilarious piece of media is central to MemeFactory. We always make something at some point in the show to illustrate the point that it really is easy. You don’t need a studio, you don’t need a nice expensive camera. You don’t need illustrator. Just a familiarity with the culture and the desire to express yourself —possibly through the grammatically lacking ramblings of kitty.What are you planning for OVC?

MF: Needless to say the show will be video-centric. But other than that—we don’t want to give away any secrets. We’re working on getting some really interesting performance mechanics down and are working on some bits of technology to do some really interesting and awesome stuff during the show.

What else are you working on?

MF: We do a fair amount of research with the Web Ecology Group based out of Cambridge, MA working on a comprehensive and holistic model of the internets and the folks that use it. This includes looking at the capabilities and characteristics of all layers of the net—design, technical, interactive—and the ways people use them to create culture and further the history of the web.

What We Know So Far—the performance company of which MemeFactory is a part—has a residency as part of The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Swing Space program at 14 Wall Street. We’re developing a piece called Forwards/Backwards, which is a 15 minute long palindrome about Time Travel, performed by members of the Brooklyn based band ArpLine.—–A big thank you to MemeFactory. We look forward to their performance in October!

Photo credits: mandiberg / neoneuromancer

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