Category Archives: publication

Publication – Internet Memes and Spatiality

I am very proud to announce that a research article resulting from the collaboration between my University of Alberta colleague Axel Perez Trujillo and myself has recently been published by the Space and Culture journal. The paper entitled “Colonizing Pepe: Internet Memes as Cyberplaces” explores the phenomenon of the creation and circulation of internet memes through the notion of spatiality in cyberspace. The concepts developed are explored through the case study of the Pepe the Frog meme controversy around the election 2016 American presidential elections.

One of the takeaways of the paper is the idea of analyzing the spatiality of internet memes through three different layers that each provides different perspectives on the power struggle inherent to meme production and circulation.

We isolate three layers of spatiality in our analysis of Pepe the Frog: (1) the contours of the image-meme, (2) the spatial distribution of the platform it occupies, and (3) the spatial relations the meme-frame sustains in regard to netizens’ commentaries (Figure 1). The following figure is a representation of these differing spatial layers that the meme encompasses:

Figure 1. The three layers of the spatiality of Internet memes. Source: Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon and Axel Pérez Trujillo Diniz (2018).

In the first layer, we represent three image-memes. For example, they could be three different iterations of Pepe the Frog, all of which incorporate significant alterations to the meme, except a particular contour, such as the face of Pepe the Frog. That defining contour is the cohesive component of the meme—what offers its unity and distinguishes from other memes. This first spatial layer is the basis of the meme. In the second layer, we represent the spatial distribution of those image-memes within a single forum. Our study is focused on how Pepe the Frog image-memes are distributed in Twitter under the #savepepe hashtag. Notice how the disposition of image-memes is vertical on the screen. This spatial aspect is central to understanding how Pepe the Frog is a contested site at all three layers. In the third layer, we represent the spatial frame of netizens’ comments and the image-meme within the platform.

While some of the ideas that make this paper were born as part of my Phd research on the spatiality of Japanese arcades, it is my position as primary instructor of the Cyberliterature class at the University of Alberta that truly brought me to look at internet memes as pieces of electronic texts worthy of scholarly attention. I want to express my sincerest thanks to Axel for his invaluable input during the whole writing process and for the great conversation we had on spatiality when thinking the core concepts of this paper. I also want to thanks the student journal The Gateway for reaching out to me for a conversation on the Pepe the Frog controversy in 2017 which truly kindled my curiosity on the matter.


Kinephanos’ Issue on Japanese Video Game Theory is Out

I am proud to announce that the latest Kinephanos issue on Japanese video game theory and the media mix has been released this week. This concludes an almost three year-long editorial process that lasted as long as my career as a Phd student. Many thanks to me colleague Martin Picard for the chance to collaborate on this project.

All papers published in issue tackle a specific aspect of the broader discussion that animates the field of Japanese game studies. These range from a discussion on localization, on kawaii culture in video games and the history of music in Japanese game culture. Tsugumi Okabe and me provide a translation of one of the first articles written about a video game in Japan. The other notable part of this issue is the introduction itself which provide a brief overview of the state of research on video games in Japan, we hope that some of the texts mentioned will inspire scholars to look at this rich literature in future projects.