“Memory Cream” is a short animation done through collage that explores the idea of imitation through memes.
Memes, for Richard Dawkins (who coined the term), are much more than videos of Keyboard Cat, they are bits of information that survive through imitation and make up what we call “Culture.”
The story imagines the psycho-somatic effects that certain Youtube videos would have on subjects, supposing they applied a “Memory Cream”* which would allow them to mutate (evolve), freely, rapidly. (“all life evolves by the differential survival or replicating entities”). This “evolution” of language and behavior is assumed to be illegal and dangerous for the institutions of Copyright because it builds off, maybe too overtly, from pre-existing culture.
Several instances of “memes” are explored: the almost subconscious repetition of a catchy tune**, the popular “flames of hell” of certain religions, identification and imitation of the Popstar, the origin of fashions, sexual and cultural attitudes learned from transgressive stars (Marlene Dietrich in this case) and the machinery of advertisement and “mass-media.”
It was inspired by Hannah Höch (a pioneer of remix culture), the Cyborg Manifesto, and Carnivore Plants.
* “We need a name for the new replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. `Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like `gene’. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme.(2) If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to `memory’, or to the French word même. It should be pronounced to rhyme with `cream’.” (Dawkins)
** “But occasionally Jenkins was privileged to witness the `invention’ of a new song, which occurred by a mistake in the imitation of an old one. He writes: `New song forms have been shown to arise variously by change of notes and the combination of parts of other existing songs … The appearance of the new form was an abrupt event and the product was quite stable over a period of years. Further, in a number of cases the variant was transmitted accurately in its new form to younger recruits so that a recognizably coherent group of like singers developed.’ Jenkins refers to the origins of new songs as `cultural mutations’.” (idem.)