A meme is created by combining a number of unrelated elements (images, phrases, feelings, symbols) to reveal a conceptually new, easily shareable image. The consumption of memes exploded over the last 2 decades because they provided a new medium to explore humor, express outrage, and for better or worse, a way to spread the word.
Personally, I was drawn to surreal memes because they provided a guaranteed refuge, not only from the dystopian headlines and hate-mongerering celebs, but also from my own catastrophizing outlook.
While surrealism has always been an element of mainstream memes, it wasn’t until half a decade ago that surreal memes branched into their own genre. Rooted in Dadaism and early Surrealist art, surreal memes are irrational on purpose, which makes them impossible to explain.
That said, the average surreal meme enjoyer may recognize the following themes and signifiers:
- Imaginary landscapes
- Visual puns
- z̴͚̜̙̉́͘ä̷̙̲́l̵̢̯͓̍g̵̩͐̀o̸̢̱̍ Text
- Distorted figures
- Unusual placements of ordinary objects
- Menacing PSA’s/calls-to-action
- Seemingly random quesions and hypotheticals
- Misspelled non-sequiturs
- Automatism: The uncontrolled rapid outpouring of unconscious thought
- Anthropomorphism: The attribution of human traits to non-human entities
This is a collection of my favorite modern surrealist memes and artworks, organized by the moods, memories, and feelings they evoked.
If you’re interested in learning more, please visit r/surrealmemes as well as the artists credited in this post.