Meme Uno

by | Oct 26, 2018 | Artwork #2: Appropriate, Projects

Artist Statement:

My game appropriates content from the internet, specifically memes. Usually, the memes are either posted independently on social media, added as reactions to other posts, or innovated and reinterpreted on the original post. The game takes the idea that the people interacting with the memes have to know what they are seeing before being able to interpret and enjoy it, and applies it to Uno. In Meme Uno, before a person can play a card, they have to identify the meme on it, and the other people can state that they are wrong. If the player cannot name any usable memes from their hand, they have to draw cards from the deck until they find one that is both applicable and that they can name. If they have 10+ cards in their hand that they cannot interpret, they can place the cards at the bottom of the deck and draw an equal number from the top. The goal, like Uno, is to get down to one card.

The memes in this version of the game are hand-drawn, but a more easily identifiable version would have the memes printed right in the cards, rather than drawn on. That would make it easier for the person bringing the deck since they wouldn’t have to draw the memes on.

The game is, because of its meme parts, partially inspired by the Dada movement, because a lot of the memes used draw upon styles used in the movement such as Baader’s photomontages. However, it is too broad a selection of images and styles to speculate which exact pieces might have influenced the memers of this generation. The actual game I made draws upon the idea of the memes as “found objects” in the way that Duchamp’s art used found objects, except instead of using objects from the outside world, the game takes memes found on the internet and translates them into the cards used for the game. Using images from sources that do not fit the base material (in this case, memes and blank Uno Cards, respectively), was also inspired by Baader’s photomontage, as well as Schwitter’s Merz collages, because those incorporated images more than words.


The first playtest spent about half of its time drawing the memes onto the cards, something that was later, in the secon playtest suggested to be turned into its own game of Meme Pictionary. After the memes were drawn, the game of Uno continued as it usually went, without the added component of naming the memes. This concluded pretty fast, because everyone knows how to play Uno and I had added nothing to the actual game.

The second playtest used the same cards as the first, so there was no drawing component, but it had the naming component, which made it last a longer time than the original. It was also a lot more chaotic and conversational, because people debated the memes they used and disproved other people. It was suggested here that either the drawings were separated into a different game and the Uno game just used the actual memes printed out, or the game was played with a BS vibe to it, where people would play memes and if they didn’t know the meme they could lie, but if they were caught they would take the card back and have to draw instead. Either option is viable, as is a combination of both.

Gallery from the second playtest:

The entire deck of memes laid out

And on a final note: