Abbrieviated Taxonomy of Miximal Archetypes
One of the most fulfilling aspects inherent in the primitive urges of the hunter-gatherer is to bag and tag your prey with an eye for identification and classification.
Whether you watch birds or YouTube or make playlists on your computer, you’ll get more out of the miximal viewing experience by understanding the basics of meme identification so you can tune your hunting process through a robust understanding of the various genres. Many artistic endeavors can rarely be perfectly categorized thanks to the degree of subtile influences and combinations of techniques that make each offering unique. Even so, certain artistic principles are indeed identifiable and can be best understood by seeing or experiencing the representational iconic examples that are emblematic of a specific type.
Within the miximal-media family tree, you can see the various Order genres shown as remixes, mashups, tributes, and, of course, works that are unique and original in nature. The interesting part of a miximalist organizational appreciation is the familiarity you’ll share with the various subgenres, such as culture jamming, derivatives, and mode shifting, to name a few. These subgenres can be applied to a single root genre (a remix) or can span across one or more root genres (a mashup or tribute), depending on their specific execution and content.
Once you develop a basic miximal vocabulary, you’ll spot miximal influences everywhere you look. If you yourself are creating miximal art forms and perhaps uploading them to a service, such as YouTube, it’s also important to understand the proper tagging principles.
You can visit some of the categories on the above meMEguide to see various examples that are presorted by genre and quickly understand the classification methodology. There's a very small microcosm of miximal media examples found here in the tabTV video collections - it’s a fun and easily accessible place to experience the various genres personally.
As part of the exploration, lets look back at various key iconic examples that gave birth to so many of the current trends, in an effort to frame the diverse genres and give context to the understanding and the principles at work.
Memes and Schemes.
The 1976 book The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins, promoted the gene-centered view of evolution and popularized the term meme (pronounced meem). The term meme is based on the Greek word mimeme (to mimic), and, when used as a popular-culture reference, it represents an element of cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that transmits from one individual to another through behavior rather than genetics, such as the popular language example, “Yo, dude!” uttered by both English and non–English-speaking dudes all across the planet.
Mimetics is the study of how models of cultural information evolve and procreate via self-replicating units of culture. With this in mind, let’s examine the millennial pop-culture phenomenon known as viral video, which is typically short-form video or video snacking that replicates from person to person though web networks and is a perfect example of a defined meme. The video snacking explosion is best illustrated by the popularity of such services as YouTube which launched in 2005 and statistics as of 2011 show that YouTube had more than 1 trillion views or around 140 views for every person on Earth.
Bloomberg/Businessweek reports that "Advertisers paid an estimated $4 billion for YouTube ads in 2012, up 60 percent from 2011, according to RBC Capital Markets stock analyst Mark Mahaney. He expects the site to attract $5 billion in ad dollars this year ." To put this into perspective, the most-watched video ever on YouTube was Gangnam Style at 1.23 billion views (as of this writing) which has brought an amazing amount of wealth and fame to the Korean rapper Psy. According to Google, “It generated over $8 million in online advertising deals,” (Nikesh Arora, Senior VP and Chief Business Officer at Google, as stated on Google’s earnings call). $8 million in revenue from a single song. And they say the music business is dead. For more of my thoughts on the industry side of media and art, visit my mediaRANT blog.
Youtube is expected to have nearly 3 billion videos by the end of 2013 so one of the big challenges confronting the new-millennium audience is the need for endless trolling and exploration of vast oceans of content in an effort to find pleasure and enrichment—a far more difficult process than simply turning the TV dial (does anyone still have a dial)? Tuning into VH1 or ESPN holds a brand promise and audience experience that are easy to understand and easy to access. The Internet also has similar branded content buckets—millions of them, perhaps tens of millions of them, if you consider the internal subgenres found within a service like YouTube. Like mining for treasure, clues exist if you know what to look for. A hidden crag of rock might yield a tiny, shiny fragment that, when excavated, yields miles of rich golden veins and rare elements that make the exploration of the periodic table of YouTube worthwhile.
Even with the advent of search engines, keyword tagging, and other means of digital foraging, finding the jewels can be a frustrating process that relies on too many active and not enough passive cycles of enjoyment. This tedium is a BIG reason I started tabTV and why I'm publishing all my playlists for you.
Let’s then focus for a moment on the various types of digital life forms and how to identify your prey. There is a broad continuum of artistic elements on YouTube that range from bad to brilliant, so finding your ideal “me” meme can be much more trouble than it is worth. The keyword formula to find miximal memes is x + x + y, where x = content such as My Little Pony and y = a miximal term, such as remix, tribute, or mashup. For example, searching for “chris crocker daft punk remix” or “super mario 300 mashup” admits you to the all-you-can-eat buffet of miximal media memes.
Additionally, by registering with YouTube, you might expose your Facebook or Gmail contacts to the heuristics engine, and, consequently, you benefit from the intelligence gleaned through YouTube understanding what your peers are watching, as well as building a profile about your tastes and interests.
This allows YouTube to present a customized set of recommendations designed just for you—the more you watch, the better the targeting and, consequently, the more relevant the recommendations are.
Another important tip is once you find a video you like, always look at the related videos that YouTube suggests. It’s a much narrower path to explore than whole-site searches, and you’ll find it very helpful. Now that we’ve learned a few tips on hunting from the “how to” perspective, let’s focus on the bigger issue of what you’ll be hunting for, how to identify it, and where it evolved from. Go to the meMEguide above and start looking around.
Miximalism as experienced through its elemental media forms provides us an easy understanding of the underlying content archetypes. Nomenclature of the anthropological taxonomy of miximal media can be easily classified by a defined set of known genres (similar to the familiar and well-established biological taxonomy known as kingdom-phylum-class-order-family-genus-species seen at the top of this page) and therefore can be understood as an evolutionary process of creative formats that span every type of media imaginable. For a deeper dive into the miximal ocean, check out my blog MIXimalism.