Meme Manifesto







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Royal College of Art, 2013-14
Nicola Koller & Tom Greenall 

Until the invention of the printing press, it could be said that architecture was the primary means of expression and communication of ideas, values and beliefs in a culture. As the speed with which information is disseminated increases exponentially, architecture's role as a carrier of culture is consequently decreased. The result is a growing mistrust in architecture's cultural agency. 

While invisible technologies continue to replace tangible physical experience architecture's response has been to sacrifice national and regional identity in favour of modernity. Without contextual relevance, architecture fails to sustain cultural significance: Where once architecture was able to carry meaning, the building blocks of today's culture are internet 'memes'.

Coined by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976 to describe "an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture", memes have clearly made an impact on the world's social, political and cultural landscapes. Their success has been attributed to their low barrier to entry, cultural relevance and the global participatory culture that has developed around them. 

As identified by Dawkins, there are three criteria that define the success of a meme - Longevity, Fecundity and Fidelity. With these 'memetic' principles as our design manifesto, we set out to explore how the rapid progress of technology has impacted on an essential social construct: trust. 

© Thomas Greenall