Digital technology and online culture have changed the way posters are created, distributed and experienced.
When images of graffitied Conservative Party billboards for the 2010 UK General Election campaign began to circulate on the web, they triggered a new current of graphic subversion.
Instead of spray cans, Internet users took up desktop image-editing tools and started experimenting with remixing the poster. Appropriations multiplied, transforming the original poster into a ‘meme’ that was copied, adapted by multiple users, and shared rapidly.
Many of the memes produced were based upon a template created by the designer Clifford Singer. People could drag-and-drop the file from his website, then re-work the poster offline on their own computers. Other memes were made using an online ‘generator’ tool developed by technologist Andy Barefoot. The ‘poster generator’ comprises Singer’s template image, with a sequence of text input fields. Users type in their alternative slogan, then click a button to ‘generate’ a poster.
Clifford Singer set up an online gallery to publish his own, and gather others’ digital remakes. It became a site of interplay between users, where viewers/makers had the opportunity to vote for their favourite meme by clicking ‘Love it’ (double thumbs-up) or ‘Like it’ (single thumbs-up). Exploring the gallery, we also discover linkages between posters. Visual jokes pass from one meme to the next and poster-making takes on a game-like quality.Back to narratives