Evolution Surfaces on Comm Ave
At Warren Towers, a student artist makes the most of memes
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In the video above, Adrienne Yangas (CAS’12) talks about the meaning of memes, as revealed in her art, now installed at Warren Towers.
As the face of campus evolves, student artists like Adrienne Yangas have become part of the natural selection. Charles Darwin would have been proud.
Last spring Yangas (CAS’12), a psychology and philosophy major, participated in an art competition sponsored by the Greater Boston Darwin Bicentennial committee, sponsored by the BU provost’s office in conjunction with other universities to encourage and coordinate Darwin-related events. Her work, Genes to Memes, won an award and then was chosen to become part of the BU landscape.
This is a big year for Darwin. He was born 200 years ago and made his most memorable scientific contribution 50 years after that, publishing On the Origin of Species, a text that inspires and sparks controversy to this day. The inspiration for Yangas’ piece comes from Darwin’s theory of evolution, with help from contemporary thinker Richard Dawkins.
She has become entranced, even obsessed, with the concept of “memes,” a word coined by Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins suggests that as genes carry genetic information from one generation to the next, memes carry cultural information from one person to the next.
Yangas’ piece represents the evolution of mankind from both the genetic and the memetic perspectives.
Transferring her work from a 13-inch Macbook to a public space on campus was overseen by the Site Specific Art class taught by Hugh O’Donnell, a College of Fine Arts professor of painting. Art created in O’Donnell’s classes has adorned the Photonics Center, Sargent College, Green Line T stops, FitRec, StuVi2, and Warren Towers — a new incarnation of Darwin’s famous phrase, survival of the fittest.
Devin Hahn can be reached at email@example.com.