String quartet (10’). Commissioned by the Del Sol String Quartet.
“THIS. IS. SPARTA!!!”
“OH HAI. I eated ur cakez”
“All Your Base Are Belong To Us”
“O RLY?/YA RLY/NO WAI!!!”
Those unfamiliar with any of the above phrases might be led to believe that I’m quoting a message thread on my teenage cousin’s Facebook wall. In actuality, these are all examples of Internet memes—phrases, images or merely ideas that spread virally from one person to another—that have reached millions of viewers in recent years. Internet memes, part of a remix culture that thrives in the Web, invite others to create their own versions of the idea, often in the form of crafty permutations of a phrase and/or a Photoshopped image, that are then transmitted alongside the original and its many knockoffs via message boards and social media.
When I was approached by the Del Sol String Quartet to write them a piece, the way that memes evolve and permutate the more people contribute to them was on my mind. I had recently come across the “Hopkin Green Frog” meme (Lostfrog.org), which was based on a child’s hand-drawn poster requesting the whereabouts of a lost frog. Multitudes of Photoshopped riffs on this poster’s content had appeared almost instantly on the Internet, involving images and text from the poster pasted into various pictures, from parodies of popular advertisements to television news footage. Similarly, I conceived Hopkin and the Wired Night as a game of “telephone” that progressively comments on, transfigures, misquotes, drops, riffs, augments, enhances and parodies aspects of an initial musical idea over the course of 13 minutes. Throughout, my vision of this child’s plea for help rocketing across the skies in the form of billions of swirling gigabits informs the language of the piece.
Performance: Kuttner String Quartet