Memes are what we call these infinitely entertaining digital items; they are newfangled one-line funnies, forged from readymade digital images that have been altered by a succinct intercedent gesture. Importantly, making one requires specific consideration of the material and aesthetic qualities of each individual article, tweet, or image as distinct from its content andmeaning. Easily created and shared with a smartphone, memes comprise a very significant amount of original online content. Alongside the infinite flow of factual information, then, has evolved a distinctive, aesthetically grounded approach towards comprehending and connecting with it.

Early in the 1970’s, however, a group of artists began manipulating the stream of popular images in a similar spirit. Members of what we now call the Pictures Generation also came of age during an era of rapid (celluloid) image proliferation and radical American cultural change, only to find themselves thrust into a weak economy and subject to a flagrantly dishonest administration. By subjecting every component of popular image distribution to material and conceptual scrutiny, these influential artists cleaved durable strategies for investigating the artifacts of mass culture for themselves and Internet generation artists.

Anchored by Paul McMahon’s clairvoyant 1974 decision to investigate the formal qualities of the era’s newspaper stories, this exhibition grooms this cross-generational kinship by showing those pioneering works alongside Eileen Isagon Skyers’ and Jeffrey Augustine Songco’s astute Information Age observations. The one-line joke model informs each of these works’composition and spirit, achieving the pithiness of a successful meme by sharply discomposing meaningful, relevant readymades. Together, McMahon, Skyers, and Songco demonstrate imaginative and subversive aesthetic approaches to materially, culturally, and politically convoluted environments. Episode 2: One Liners continues Twenty-first Century Occupational Adjustments and Considerations, HARRISON’s ongoing exhibition series centered around art offering fresh perspectives on contemporary life.

HARRISON gallery is dedicated to thoughtful and adventurous engagement with art of this time.

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