The whole assignment really set me up for failure
September 4, 2016 2:54 PM   Subscribe

My mission was that I was to make a meme or two a day for a week - Sam Rolfes is an artist with a glitchy digital aesthetic. Meme art often looks glitchy and lo-fi, so why not assume this is a natural pairing?

Sam Rolfes is still trying.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia (41 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wonder how many of the 4channers called him out on his technical faults rather than lack of humor or point.
posted by benzenedream at 3:25 PM on September 4, 2016


Help I'm trying to read this guy's writeup but the simultaneous extreme earnestness and lack of self-awareness is hurting me physically

He might as well have set "I'm going to invent a successful new inside joke for that group of strangers sitting across the restaurant from me" as his goal
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:52 PM on September 4, 2016 [13 favorites]


There are moments where he exhibits a degree of awareness

Meme characters tend to have a juvenile, crude look to them, but not because they're made poorly. They're based on found internet objects. People don’t create the objects that they use in the memes. They find them.

but then is all fuck it no i'm a just do my own thing.
posted by juv3nal at 4:02 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that "I'm just gonna do my own thing" thing is like How to Not Get Hired a Second Time by a Client 101

I mean making a thing catch on on the internet is simple

You either tap into the deep loneliness and depression felt by most of the people who consider Internet a hobby or you just steal wholesale from black people slang, because for whatever reason black folks are the only group in America capable of having any fun with the English language
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:09 PM on September 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Maybe the whole thing is set up to be an experiment to discover how he handles consistent failure that is incontrovertibly 100% his own fault for not even trying to follow the rules of the game
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:11 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I mean yes obviously I am disappoint
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:12 PM on September 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wow, every single one of these is reeks of "I'm an experimental artist doing what you do but all **EXPERIMENTAL ARTY** (which is better)".

First of all, every one of them is WAY too much work. Meme-y stuff (at least in the first generation of a meme, before it starts getting remixed) is usually really low effort, like text slapped on an image that someone else just posted, rushed because you're trying to make sure you're the first one to make the joke.
Secondly, they're all... I don't know if there's a word for it, but there's a thing every 3D digital experimental artist seems to be into where everything is all protruding and unnaturally shaped, and I'm sure the fact that it all looks like broken fingers is part of the point or something but it may as well be a nametag that says "HELLO my name is Experimental Art".
Third, not a single one of them shows any understanding of the sense of humor that he's trying to stimulate here. Who was going to be entertained by any of these, exactly? I believe him when he says he thinks of himself as a witty guy, but after reading this I also believe that he is literally the only person on Earth who thinks that.
Fourth, he was trying way too hard to make a point with a couple of them. Look at the 420 meme: he's telling a whole fucking story here. He's completely misunderstood who he was supposed to be pandering to. This is closer to something that my conservative relatives would chain forward than it is to something that would get popular on /b. We're talking about people who have made a hundred billion different versions of a lawnmower flying away.
posted by IAmUnaware at 4:17 PM on September 4, 2016 [13 favorites]


Generally in my experience anyone who "thinks of himself as a witty guy" is mostly just a nuisance
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:22 PM on September 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Riffing on what IAmUnaware just said, the 420 one would have been INFINITELY better if the society line was cut. just "4:19" and "4:20". That's all a "real meme" would do; the extraneous commentary only served to distance himself from the target style.
posted by radiosilents at 4:22 PM on September 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


yeah but then how would he forcibly inject his work with Preciousness
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:30 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


And I can't even think how to explain to him that he has fundamentally missed the point because he's able to *describe* the point in clear language. He understands intellectually what the target is. He can perceive how others hit the target. He just then, somehow... misses.
posted by Scattercat at 4:41 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


"So I've got that bullseye target over there, about a hundred yards away, and I've got this bow and arrow here. The object is to hit the target, with an arrow. So I'm gonna do that through turntablism."

"Guys I'm so frustrated what am I doing wrong"
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:52 PM on September 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


No, I'm totally on board with this guy. Like, obviously it's not working but it's not working on his terms.
posted by RobotHero at 4:58 PM on September 4, 2016 [10 favorites]


Maybe I just need to recalibrate my interpretation of what's going on here

Maybe it's secretly not a visual artist writing up his experiences with unsuccessful projects, but a performance artist who is extremely good at cringe comedy
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:03 PM on September 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Better than throwing crickets at people.
posted by RobotHero at 5:07 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I took notes like, "Stop trying so hard, care less.”

That is not how you do that
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:09 PM on September 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Well, I tried, but I think one big problem with his approach is that memes usually don't induce revulsion.
posted by Standard Orange at 5:25 PM on September 4, 2016


I have to admit that my first thought about "Relationship Goals" was indeed "oh, subsurface scattering".
posted by Pyry at 5:29 PM on September 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Maybe it's secretly not a visual artist writing up his experiences with unsuccessful projects, but a performance artist who is extremely good at cringe comedy

How can anyone look at this and not go with the some variant of your second interpretation?

(I'd pay for a nice print of that 4:20 thing, btw.)
posted by effbot at 5:34 PM on September 4, 2016


A lot of the recent memes I'd been seeing were from the Cool Freaks Wikipedia Club Facebook group, which is the polar opposite of 4chan, with content and trigger warnings for every post. I spent two or three hours scrolling through a year's worth of Cool Freaks memes and saving the patterns I thought were recurring, visually thinking: "Why are these working, punchline-wise? What kind of jokes work?"

If this was true he'd have just made a bunch of dank Emperor Norton and Timothy Dexter pepes
posted by theodolite at 6:13 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't get all the hate. At least as he and the magazine's own intro tells it, it doesn't seem like this guy went to the publication and said "I will conquer the meme world with my weird digital art" — the publication asked him to do this. And whether his editor said it explicitly or not, it's a fair assumption the magazine wanted him to take on memes in his own style, or it would've made for a pretty dull experiment.

I found it interesting to see someone try to decipher and penetrate this subculture and fail. I thought he came across as pretty aware of how thirsty and inept he was, and kept a good attitude despite what I'm sure were scathing responses to his attempts.
posted by retrograde at 6:18 PM on September 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


it's a fair assumption the magazine wanted him to take on memes in his own style, or it would've made for a pretty dull experiment.


It's pretty clear that attempting to do this "in his own style" was not going to succeed so any attempt to do so would not be a good faith attempt to create a successful meme. How is it remotely incomprehensible that that some people would be put off by disingenuousness?
posted by juv3nal at 8:14 PM on September 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


As long as he got paid and one day packages this into a gallery show (no doubt about the intarwebs not being receptive to complex works, and titled MEME//fail) I don't think he cares all that much.
posted by benzenedream at 9:17 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


This one got removed almost immediately. 4Chan started deleting my shit very quickly
posted by Greg Nog at 9:23 PM on September 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


When u in the friendzone and she be like

this is the ineptest attempt to talk like a black person since the wardine chapter of infinite jest
posted by Greg Nog at 9:27 PM on September 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


How is it remotely incomprehensible that that some people would be put off by disingenuousness?

I guess it's comprehensible but I think disingenuousness may be preferable to sincerity here.
posted by atoxyl at 9:29 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Dada pastiche, whatever, but I like his artistic style in general.
posted by rhizome at 9:33 PM on September 4, 2016


You're a meme artist Sam: just shut up and show us your kitten.
posted by rongorongo at 11:05 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


This was also when I first started to try to shoehorn in Pepe the Frog, who is like the current hot item in the meme world

Ahahaha...oh, bless
posted by Gordafarin at 3:24 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Article: I Failed At Making Meme
Metafilter: Actually this guy failed at making memes.

*clenches fist*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:35 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


No, it's like:

Article: I failed at an endeavor I tried hard at
MeFi: Actually this guy wasn't even trying to try
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:48 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Generally in my experience anyone who "thinks of himself as a witty guy" is mostly just a nuisance

I used to know a guy who liked to introduce himself as "an inveterate punster".

He was sorely in need of being beaten with a sack of oranges. Just..all day, every day. Citrus sack city.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:24 AM on September 5, 2016 [12 favorites]


Lessons learned

The whole project was excruciating.


Paste that on Goatse Man. Job done.
posted by flabdablet at 4:43 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pepe the Frog. Memes. What do you need, a roadmap?
posted by RobotHero at 6:43 AM on September 5, 2016


What this article does illustrate interestingly, is that memes come from a community not from an individual auteur.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:00 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, like dickbutt! Or the this is fine dog! Quality memes that just spontaneously generated from the collective unconscious of the community rather than some so-called "artist".
posted by Pyry at 11:35 AM on September 5, 2016


Or Trollface, the unlicensed inclusion of which in the shovelware game "Meme Run" ultimately got it pulled for copyright infringement, instead of for just being a garbage game
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:01 PM on September 5, 2016


Perhaps it's just my mind in the gutter, but all his "memes" look like he's trying to create a new sub-genre for hentai.
posted by Alnedra at 9:17 PM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


whippedy do
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:12 PM on September 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Thought #1: The Venn diagram of "Trying way too hard" and "completely missing the point" is this guy and, subsequently, a meme in itself.

Thought #2: This guy making a meme is like me making a MeFi post.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:04 PM on September 6, 2016


legit just started laughing out loud again about Whippedy Doo
posted by Greg Nog at 2:16 PM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


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