I am become meme, Destroyer of shorts, 2021
Unglazed Portuguese porcelain tile, grout, wooden substrate
40 x 60 cm
Taken from a recent Elon Musk tweet, the concept of ‘becoming a meme’ is quite fitting in this day and age, we appear to be entering into an age in which no aspects of reality are safe from ‘memeification’.
Originally, “I am become death, destroyer of worlds” is a famous phrase from the Bhagavad Gita and it was later used by Oppenheimer when he witnessed the detonation of the first nuclear bomb in 1945. As evident in Musk’s choice of words, in order to make sense of our present we weave together narratives from throughout human history; by reapplying them in a modern context we can give them new meaning.
Rowell's mosaic works are based on emerging "trends" within internet culture, new social behaviours that evolved and developed entirely within the virtual space. Josh was most fascinated by the popularity of trending comment memes, which are found on social media platforms and web forums. By deciding to recreate these messages as mosaics the artist seeks isolate these brief and fleeting moments that we would otherwise scroll past, without giving them a second glance. In doing so the artist is reversing the transient nature of the social media feeds that we constantly refresh. The artist assumes the role of an archivist operating within the digital space, creating permanence in an otherwise temporal domain.