When Berger said that the faces of paintings become messages, he meant that a face could transmit so much feeling and make you think what is happening in the painting. These memes convey their message with the characters in the painting having a conversation, this conversation is based on the faces and the actions that the characters are doing. Usually these conversations are about things of the daily life as studies, love, drama; generally represented in a sarcastic way. Some of them even expose some of the reality of that time.
When I think of memes, I see them as a new way of information that delivers the message in a hilarious form. Some memes are merely funny and that’s it, but many memes contain references which you would have to know to understand the meme this encourages you to investigate the history behind it (this is more likely to happen with history memes though).
I remember that about three years ago in Facebook, there was a spanish musical video created by Christian Flores about the one of the most important paintings in art history: “Las Meninas” made by the Spanish painter Diego Velasquez. With bad orthography, making zoom and the movement in the mouth of the characters in the video the little Margarita keeps asking to Velasquez (who appears in the painting) if she is cute, while Velasquez is telling the tragic and short life of Margarita in a sarcastic way. This is the clear example of how things like videos or memes altering the real meaning of a painting with sounds and dialogues, could be not only funny but informative. I actually still remember the lyrics of the song and probably if I hadn’t seen this video I wouldn’t know anything about “Las Meninas”. Here’s the video, but is in spanish and with bad orthography, so probably many of you won’t understand, sorry ): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Il6p2-40-F0
These are some examples of how classical paintings could be turn into memes nowadays
Ha! Memes are great to think about in the context of Ways of Seeing. You might think more about how what Berger says at the end of Episode 1 makes things like these memes funny.