2021 / Dank Images, TikTok and the Apocalypse


Dank Images, TikTok and the Apocalypse. Images and Visual Negotiations on the Internet
Fri 10.12.21 + Sat 11.12.21
Universität zu Köln
Department Kunst und Musik

Digital images circulate worldwide and are used to communicate and comment on countless forms of everyday life, as well as on political and social events. Crisis scenarios in particular – from #covid19 to #capitol – fuel online image production and turn, for example, memes into political actors.

Social media platforms play a very central role in the dissemination of these posts. TikTok, for example, currently stands predominantly for fifteen-second hands-on courses; however, time and again, it simultaneously produces via the multitude of its users visual narratives away from the central stories and brings contradictory sets of images to light (#weirdtiktok #queertiktok). Hence, a content-related and aesthetic condensing of the content in circulation is currently taking place. The term ‘dank’ [dæŋk] marks an extreme in the discourse and combines such qualities as coolness, weirdness and a special knowledge of unbounded spaces of meaning in meme culture. The term dank contours and opens up zones of transgression. For example, although doomsday scenarios and apocalyptic narratives have always been present as motifs, the pervasive sense of a Living in the End Times (Zizek) is an invitation to find new forms of visual encounter and cultural negotiation at the edges.

The symposium Dank Images connects to these extensive and transgressing discourses and wants to dare an experimental approach to this field. With our invitation we open formats and conduct fundamental research related to these always highly topical youth and subcultural image worlds. In doing so, digitally networked images and videos are understood as managing entities of algorithmically shaped cultures. Hence, in this gathering the attempts are made to remeasure and discuss the logics of these (moving) images along theoretical and practical approaches drawing from media and cultural theory as well as art pedagogy.


The era of nonsense. Weirdness, absurdism and surrealism in Internet memes

Favouring drift, serendipity, and the free association of images, texts and sounds, the Internet has multiplied our opportunities to encounter – and generate – weirdness and nonsense. By opposing the category of “common sense”, nonsense can acquire a disruptive value and become a form of resistance to an homologating culture, as well as a creative way to exorcise the contradictions of our time. In an era characterised by a profoundly unstable socio-political framework, and a sense of impending doom, the response – especially among young Western people – takes the form of a Dadaist attitude that manifests itself in a spontaneous way, just as a conditioned reflex. 



FREITAG: Dez 10, 2021 (16.00-20.00)

16.30 Valentina Tanni – Memestetica
17.30 Pause
18.00 Katja Gunkel – Cuteness

SAMSTAG: Dez 11, 2021 (9.00-21.00)

09.30 EXPLORATIONS: Forschungsfragen/ Inputs/ Materialkunde
14.30 DEEP END & LONG RESEARCH: individuelle Recherchen und Spaziergänge im Feld
18.00 STRINGS: Lightning Talks zu den Forschungsergebnissen aus den individuellen Recherchen, Diskussion und Verabredungen.