Just for hits (2013)

photos by Sandra Ciampone

A provocation on creativity, technology, cultural evolution and internet culture; featuring Professor Richard Dawkins.

The internet has had a profound effect on creativity. Not only on how we share and distribute our creations, but also on how and what we create. This omnipresent and omniscient network acts as a catalyst for cultural evolution, a perfect ecology for ideas to spread like viruses, instantaneously transferred from brain to brain, mutating and evolving exponentially along the way.

Evolutionary biologist Prof. Richard Dawkins coined the word ‘meme’ in his 1976 book ‘The Selfish Gene’ as a unit of cultural information that can be replicated. Using Darwinian evolution by natural selection as a metaphor, it represents a small piece of information, idea, practise, tradition that is capable of being transferred between people, generations, neighbours, enemies; while being prone to accidental changes, mutations; evolving via a process similar to Darwinian evolution by natural selection. In this sense a ‘meme’ – in the Dawkins definition – is analogous to a ‘gene’ in genetic / biological evolution. In the internet age, the word ‘meme’ has been hijacked and transformed into something new. The original Dawkins ‘meme’ – just like its metaphorical cousin the ‘gene’ – evolves via accidental, random mutations as it is replicated. ‘Internet memes’ however are subjected to deliberate mutations, purposefully made decisions by conscious human agents, meddled by human creativity. The very word ‘meme’ has become a meme in itself (by the Dawkins definition). It has mutated, and evolved to mean something new. But perhaps at some level an ‘internet meme’ is compatible with the original Dawkins ‘meme’? After all, consciousness, agency and creativity emerged via Darwinian evolution, as accidental mutations of the mind.

This topic is explored as what starts out as a serious lecture for 3000 advertising executives at the Cannes Lions Festival, and explodes into an unexpected audiovisual extravaganza ode to the internet, with a great surprise in the finale.

A Marshmallow Laser Feast project. An arts & technology studio I co-founded in 2011. Created in collaboration with Jonathan Santana, Xander Smith and Juliette Larthe.

Brief selection of press coverage

Great debate in comments:
skepchick.org/2013/06/the-greatest-thing-richard-dawkins-has-ever-done

Nice analysis of the performance:
schoolofdoubt.com/2013/06/25/dawkins-the-performance-artist

Richard Dawkins video interview with the Guardian

wired interview with myself

wired interview with Professor Dawkins

youtube comments

slate.com/blogs/trending/2013/06/27/richard_dawkins_memes_in_lecture_biologist_muses_on_origin_of_term

buzzfeed.com/lukelewis/must-watch-richard-dawkins-insane-psychedelic-rap-about-meme

gawker.com/what-the-hell-happens-five-minutes-into-this-richard-da-560062576

businessinsider.com/richard-dawkins-made-a-video-about-internet-memes-2013-6

bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2013/06/is-professor-richard-dawkins-taking-crazy-pills

huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/06/24/richard-dawkins-cannes-showcase_n_3490201.html

metro.co.uk/2013/06/24/watch-richard-dawkins-mutation-in-the-mind-3853818

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/24/richard-dawkins-meaningless-meme-viral

independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/video-richard-dawkins-attempts-memedom-via-saatchi–saatchi-8674875.html

Brief selection of comments


This guy is a total loon, i’ve said it for years

What the Hell Happens Five Minutes Into This Richard Dawkins Speech?

I have this sudden urge to kill the prime minister of Malaysia.

I loved it I loved it I loved it. It’s like if Ke$ha and Skrillex and Charles Darwin had a baby and their selfish genes mixed into all sorts of goodness. That is the closest I have ever been to having a religious experience.

Nothing like a surprise acid trip in the middle of a biology lecture.

First, this blew my mind. Then it blew my mind.

ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL

What a goddamned genius. Baller as fuck.

Lol that hotdog.

what the…

“I’d rather spread memes than genes anyway”….. Forever Alone…

I’m worried that Dawkins will utter a secret code phrase and we’ll all go into a trance and kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

He’s lost it.

possibly one of the best video ever

what the fucking fuck is this bullshit

This is great  contemporary art

I’m pretty sure that video proved the existence of god somehow.

I is muffin dreamfactor in the recoils of jellied and nubbie hats.

KILL THE MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER!!!

First I saw colors, then I saw God, and then it all broke when Dawkins started to play the beginning of FF VII’s Main Theme~World Map Theme 1.

dafuq did i just watch

Finally. He had just evolved into Timothy Leary…

memes memes memes memes genes genes genes genes

Telling Richard Dawkins how “memes work”, That’s like telling Einstein how relativity works

I loved it. Richard is a scientist with every breath, describing the phenomenon of genetic and memetic evolution and replication. Well done, if some people are angry at watching this, you have done your job.

This is the craziest piece of science since the flux capacitor.

Dawkin’s is an arrogant tit, cringeworthy.

hahahahah what trash

almost as boring as ted talks

WHAT IN THE FUCK! AHAHAHA oh this is hilarious! I may have not been a big fan of Dawkins but motherfucker knows how to make you say “What the fuck” and still laugh! xD

I heard Richard Dawkins punched Nigella Lawson in the ovaries

It’s like my dad learned After Effects and tried to be trendy. Kill me now.

This is life changing.

Richard Dawkins has lost his damn mind. He’s become Beyonce at the Super Bowl.

i would pay to watch dawkins spread his genes all over a hooker tits

dude wtf

Terrorists are gay.

PREPARE FOR YOUR REPROGRAMMING SEQUENCE TO BEGIN.

Wow!! Still not as crazy as religion…

5:00 onwards – best thing I have seen all year.

Drivelling mantras? Saw them at Glasto once.

MUTATION IN THE MIND mutation in the mind mutation in the mind mUTatTiOn iN The Mind MIUfajtatiON iN hTE Muind MUtatjafiAknCAna InaathT Thengh MUfandaM. seriously though wtf is happening

I’ve never seen anything so Nathan Barley in my life.

I’m going back to religion.

Let’s see God do that.

MEMES = GENES – Wake up sheeple!

yep… didn’t see that coming

This kind of reminds me of my grandpa trying to appeal to me when I was young by imitating my speech patterns. This is two parts hilarious, two parts adorable, three parts awesome, and one part face-palm

I am so confused, I literally have no idea what I just saw… But with out a doubt this is THE GREATEST THING ON YOUTUBE I HAVE EVER SEEN! I would gladly give this video all of my fucks XD

Reminded me of one of my salvia trips.

What the actual fuck just happened?

You just won youtube

I did not see that coming. That was… wow… awesome!

I can has Ricky C. Dawkz???? >.<

Credits

The New Directors’ Showcase 2013
Brought to you by Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide

Concept created by
Jonathan Santana and Xander Smith
www.smithsantana.tumblr.com

Directors
Marshmallow Laser Feast

Producer
Juliette Larthe

Production Company
PRETTYBIRD
www.prettybirdus.com

Line Producer
Natalia Maus

Animation
Merchants & Sons

Composer
Finn McNicholas

Sound & Instrument Design
Tim Exile

Graphic Design
Laurent Fetis and Sarah Martinon
(Thanks to Elisabeth Arkhipoff)

Production Assistant
Ben Larthe

Floor Runners
Jonathan Cozzo and Kane Phillips

Make-up Artist
Emilie Lovicourt

A special thank you to
Professor Richard Dawkins
for playing a key part in ‘Just for Hits’.