Media Memes: Images, Technology, & Making the News

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20/21 Gallery Conversation Wall & Process Space

With photographic works drawn from the Spencer Museum’s permanent collection, Media Memes explores shifts in the creation and distribution of visual journalism and the impact of new technologies. A significant feature of the exhibition includes a participatory opportunity in which visitors can engage with and consider the ways that new technologies shape image capture, selection, and distribution.

Understanding how we make meaning from photography constitutes a key element of media literacy. Our perceptions of news, privacy, awareness, the past and the present are culturally and emotionally anchored in the visual reality that we perceive in photographs. This exhibition seeks to generate conversations around media literacy and how “media memes,” or cultural ideas and categories of visual information, are produced and transmitted over several generations. It raises additional questions regarding the ways in which technology contributes to our changing relationship with the news media. As the volume of imagery increases, how do we filter the truthful from the fraudulent, the important from the inane, the significant from the random? What message is being delivered and what is being received? What choices are made and who is responsible?

Curated by Michael Williams (Associate Professor of Interactive Media, School of Journalism) with assistance from Luke Jordan (Adjunct Lecturer of Photography, Department of Design and Visiting Lecturer, Spencer Museum of Art) and Celka Straughn (Andrew W. Mellon Director of Academic Programs, Spencer Museum of Art). The exhibition presents a collaboration between the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas and the Spencer Museum of Art.


Selected exhibition images