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Contested Meme-ing: co-opt or Co-operate


Description of campaign/project

and interactive contested space where the ways in which one fuss a text through reading or fixates on a text in the intimacy of reading is compounded by having two reader vie for or collaborate on the emergent meaning of a text. This speaks to the social space of mean gin as a contested space of imposition, opposition and positing of possible readings. Here the act of reading and the experience of reading are brought into the same dimensions and intricacies and intimacies as the social space in which meaning operates. (please see pdf proposal

inerdisciplinary - informed by installation practice performance and a background in poetry

there is fine line between what one imposes upon the site of shared meaning and how joint attention and care might allow a negotiated or ideally a emergent meaning to arise.
The contested activity of the installation highlights the contested nature of propositions, assertions, designations observations and distinctions made through language.
Language as an attuning activity filled with contingency deictic complexity and performative nuance requires an intimacy of close and extended proximity.

from my experience of making works that led to this one I learned that one own pattern of meaning making, one own kitsch if you will is deeply imbedded and inflect our encounter with new meaning and the production of meaning that are not solely our own, ice ever they were.

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

Jondi, I'm no art historian or theorist but rather a digital thinker and strategist. Your work speaks to certain fundamental strains of digital culture that I am very familiar with. Since the emergence of the hyperlink and cutting and pasting, digital texts have become fluid subjects of mashups and embedded collective references. The world of text rework that Tom Philips was exploring through art in the 60s and 70s has now become a daily reality for digital natives. Collective and interactive texts online are going mainstream, Wikipedia being one of the most high profile examples.

But there is something fresh and exciting about bringing this into 'real space' in the very down and dirty paintball way that you propose! I am always stimulated by migrations of cultural norms from the online to the offline and in your case, from the art gallery to the shooting gallery.

Judged against the principles of the Beyond category, I give full points for the participatory angle, for I have no doubt that people will engage with the situation you have created and have fun doing so. You have given them a key role in the creative process, rather than tacking on participation as an accessory to the fact.

Also, being a doer as well as a thinker, I appreciate the feasibility of your proposed installation, from design of the booth right down to the dynamics of interaction. I have reviewed many proposals that read well but are certain to not work as planned. In your case, I have no problem seeing it work 'in real life'.

Some questions arise when I look at the social and political framing of the activity, since Memefest is, after all, about the interplay between communications and social or environmental change.

You say that the texts that will be interacted with will be 'selected from a range of sources from mundane texts (encyclopedia entries, obscure novels) to classic texts from literature or music lyrics to highly provocative political or religious texts...'

Does the nature of the text not define, in a fundamental way, the character of interaction one will have with it? It seems to me that paintballing sections of an encyclopedia entry versus doing the same to the Koran or Bill of Rights would result in two entirely different interventions, from a cultural and political standpoint.

Would it not be more powerful to choose to go either with mundane texts or with ones that are charged with social and political meaning?

And further, if one were interacting only with mundane texts, then is the intervention merely reaffirming participatory norms that are well established in the digital sphere?

View other works commented by Tom Liacas  ››

Other comments

7 years, 10 months ago

hi Tom
thanks for you feedback
yes the social and political framing of the selected texts... I suppose that since meme work across within and through a range of text and the types of intimates are very varied, a dictionary entry with a few redactions can reveal a political underbelly latent in all texts. then the opportunity for collaboration or contestation might occur better over banal texts whereas a heated contestation might ensue with very loaded and charred texts. I was thinking to involve audience or curator in the choice of texts.

However, this may all be moot because the extent of the preparation and expense and co-ordination of people to assist mean that i really needed to know much earlier about acceptance and then to work with the venue and tech people to solve some issues , so I am afraid, with such short notice that I will not be able to produce the proposal. I have tried to email the organiser but have had no response... not sure where to go from here?, cheers Jondi

Curators comments

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Tom Liacas go to comments ›

Entry details


Contested Meme-ing: co-opt or Co-operate


paint ball meets tom phillips in a site of co-constructed meaning

Concept author(s)

Jondi Keane

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) contribution

co-author, collaborator, designed and material producer.




Michael Blitz

Designer(s) year(s) of birth


Designer(s) contribution

co-author, collaborator


United States of America

Competition category


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deskin University, Melbourne