Memefest is an international network engaged in the transformation of social relations through radical design. Our main focus is the decolonisation of knowledge and the public sphere + social and environmental change. We integrate education, publishing, research, and the organization of events, as well as the facilitation and production of various media and interventions in the public sphere. Memefest is independent and operates in collaboration with universities, practitioners and social movements. Our approach counters the management of pedagogy, channels knowledge from different disciplines and connects the university with critical, marginal and counter-cultural positions. We create impossible spaces for deep exchange in the undercurrents.
Memefest was founded in 2002 with the aim to change the very logic of communication. We understand design as a key human activity, which is entrenched in all social spheres and is deeply embeded in social relations. Since then we have continously made visible design's inherent connection to neoliberal capitalisms extractive strategies and colonizing apetites. We have developed critique, and have researched, taught, published and practiced alternative, opositional knowledge and radical praxis. From the start Memefest resonated with people around the world. Our networked structure enables us keeping a global perspective while we are deeply embedded in local communities.
Memefest’s main operations are the friendly competition, events and publishing.
Memefest Friendly Competition presents a counter- award nurturing radical design practice and critical writing. The ideas and conceptual frameworks that underpin it are close to radical avant-gardes and are in conflict with mainstream institutions like the Red Dot Design Award, the Good Design Award or the Cannes Lions Creative Communication and Advertising Award or World Press Photo Awards. Memefest Friendly Competition focuses on urgent social issues and uses an original public, dialogic, contextual and networked curatorial approach to reward best works. The whole process nurtures a collaborative instead of competitive culture and our interest is explicitely in non extractive epistemologies. Memefest Friendly Competition is a direct alternative and critique of the mainstream industry awards.
Memefest events resolve in the form of symposia, workshops and public interventions. Our methodology is extradisciplinary and includes dialogue, friendship, intimacy, collaboration and pleasure. This methodology liberates knowledge and opens up new possibilities of expression, analysis and commitment. In this process we connect universities, practitioners and social movements with the aim to change the disciplines, develop meaningful critical work and be empowered together with social movements and other marginal social positions. Our events have so far taken place in Ljubljana, Nijmegen, Brisbane, Belgrade, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Sao Paulo, Havana, Manizales, Dubai, Baltimore and Saigon.
Memefest publishing merges the love for both: zines and academic books. So far, we have (co) published four books and are currently collaborating with Intellect Books on the book series Memefest Interventions. Our extradisciplinary books push the boundaries of academic publishing in the way they are produced as well as their form and content. The books connect and speak to different cultures of knowledge production and are priced more accessible than most academic books.
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Memefest office 2002, Ljubljana.
THE FESTIVAL PART:
The Festival of radical design is organised by Memefest core group in collaboration with the wider Memefest network.
Whenever we feel necesary, Memefest singles out a text and/or image that serves as a focal point for a critical take on key issues defining our lives. The festival’s Friendly competition opens in three categories: Critical writing, Visual communication practice and Beyond... Participants are asked to respond to the chosen texts and images with written or visual entries (according to their discipline).
Anyone can participate. There are no age limitation and participation is free of charge.
After the deadline, submissions are evaluated by an international board of hand picked curators and editors, composed of distinguished educators, artists, media activists, researchers, educators, theoreticians and professionals from the spheres of social theory and humanities, design, arts and social communication.
A limited nr. of Authors will rank among the curated and edited choices among all submitted work. All curated and edited works will be part of the special Memefest "Good communication and art" work edition. Authors will receive Memefest GOOD COMMUNICATION WORK recognition of excellency.
Those Authors will get special written feedback by Memefest's curators and editors. This is a very special and unique dimension of Memefest. This feedback, we believe, can be highly beneficial for you to reflect on your work and gain more knowledge to improve your future practice. The fact of having your submitted work in the festivals curated and edited selection is a big recognition of your work. This is important part of Memefest's award to you. Every Author who's work is ranked that high will actively contribute to the process of establishing international standards of good communication.
All entries are displayed on the website with comment boxes provided for visitor feedback.
Submission deadline is yet to be announced.
THE COMMUNITY PART:
Everyone is invited to join the community. You can do this by creating a personal account. Once created it allows you to establish your own personal network of comrades. You can publish blogs which will be read by the international community, you can publish projects in our special gallery and show the world your socially beneficial communications practice in a way which is dialogic and contextualised. Once posted you will be able to get informed feedback from the community. You will also be able to directly ask community members, whom you respect, to feedback on your work and of course you are invited to comment on project and blog posts other community members published.
It's important to note that what ever you do and what ever data you provide on Memefest network it will never be given to anyone including corporate bloodsuckers of any kind! It is also important to know that because of this you will never be exploited as http://digitallabor.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">digital laborer. You will never be working without knowing it and no one will ever capitalise on your actions!
Memefest operates as a wider international network and a core group of close collaborators. It was founded by a small group of students at University of Ljubljana led by Oliver Vodeb in 2002.
Based in Australia, Slovenia and Canada but united across the globe the Memefest broader team is an international network of of critical academics, curious students, adventurous professionals, passionate activists, gifted amateurs and close friends. Already past our 20th year, we are excited about the overwhelmingly large and positive response we have generated. We thank you for your continued support and collaboration!
Rok Klemencic, Web page, print and other design
Ana Pavlišič (ana at memefest.org), Development and Administration of the web page
Memefest concept: Oliver Vodeb
Beyond... concept: Tomas Liacas, Oliver Vodeb
Memefest All Stars: Lejla Kogej, Tina Mehle, Marko Gutman, Paul Dechene, Urška Prusnik, Katja Petrin Dornik, Matevž Medja, Mitja Miklavcic, Tom Liacas, Lovro Žitnik, Kernow Craig, Zoe Romano, Gašper Koren, Andreja Vezovnik, Paulo Hartmann, Ines Nin; Organisations: PINA, PINK SWEATER, LOESJE;
Memes are part of what we are interested in but our work is much broader. Below however are some thoughts on memes. Our name, Memefest, was inspired by media activist cultures of the late 90' early 2000'. The theory of memetics was useful to us as it positioned communication outside of the traditional theoretical conceps and provided a direct link to exciting radical practices. Twenty years later Memefest is a name we still use. Memes are to us ideas worth spreading and the popular internet memes are a just a tiny fraction of this. We still like that angle.
Over time, the phenomenon of idea-dissemination has taken various forms and has adapted itself to different socio-cultural settings (in many cases eventually changing these settings themselves). Suffice it to say that the successful dissemination of ideas, measured by their acceptance by the largest possible audiences, has not always been related to the inner worth of the ideas themselves in terms of their political, scientific, economic or social worth. Valid ideas and values are often lost in the shuffle, while mediocre, or even harmful ones, are sometimes accepted by large numbers.
Ideas do not exist in isolation. Their power can manifest itself only in relation to the environment in which they are spread. The name of the festival is taken from the theories of memetics pioneered in the 70s and later taken up by cultural theorists such as Douglas Rushkoff in his book http://www.rushkoff.com/">Media Virus.
According to Memetics theory, a meme is a: "contagious idea that replicates like a virus, passed on from mind to mind. Memes function the same way genes and viruses do, propagating through communication networks and face-to-face contact between people."
In the 70's, Richard Dawkins issued a book http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Selfish_Gene">The Selfish Gene (Richard Dawkins,1976) popularising a new theory which addressed the phenomenon of changing cultural patterns. Based on Darwin's theory of evolution through selection, Memetics accords genetic properties such as replication to certain types of information called 'memes'. According to Dawkins, memes are: 'behavioural instructions stored in brain (or other carrier) that are transmitted by imitation (Blackmore, 1999, pg. 43). Because the individual who mediates the Meme to another host keeps hosting her own Meme, the transmission of a Meme is in fact its replication (Blackmore, 1999, pg. 47).
It is in the nature of Memes to 'infect' as many people as possiblehttp://www.memefest.org/2008/en/images/line.png" alt="" />
Theorists of Memetics (Dawkins, Blackmore and other) propose that memes are autonomous as they travel (and take root) from one individual to another but these same theorists also allow the possibility of deliberately creating and spreading Memes.
The quality of a Meme is determined by the process of its selection that takes part on every level of transmission. The spreading of Memes can sometimes be obstructed. A Meme in the wrong place at the wrong time will not be able to spread for it has to be accepted by individuals - its hosts. Whether naturally occurring or deliberately created, once a Meme 'infects' a certain number of hosts, it becomes autonomous and spreads of its own power.
From the point of view of Memetics theory, the mass media and social media are presently the most potent engines for the dissemination of Memes since the expose potential carriers to an incredible volume of memes daily.
In an information society, modern battles are fought less with weapons and more with ideas. Since Memes can influence behaviour and change culture, they are the new weapons which are used to establish and dethrone ideologies. Ideas, are dangerous, in a good and bad sense.
Although Memefest takes its name from the concept of Memetics, our Philosophical background is not limited to it. The reason why we felt the concept of meme is interesting for our purpose is it's usefulness. A meme is something that can be extracted from us and looked at as a independent entity. It's not necessarily a part of us if we are able to critically reflect on memes that are spread through media and communication. This distance towards ideas/concepts and behavioural patterns can be highly productive and is a condition for involved engagement in to communication practices within our everyday lives.