As I was walking through the National Museum of Art in Washington DC, I couldn’t help by hear constant genres of old music (Classical and Medieval), as I walked through the impressively European artwork. While hearing the music for so long (I spent hours in there), I was reminded of the time of when I was in other museums (in Rome, LA, San Francisco), and each time I heard music that I had subconsciously connected the artwork to.
There are only two reasons why this has occurred. The answer: movies and memes. Why these two? Well, I could argue that shows have also helped, but they gained their inspiration from movies and documentaries. Movies and documentaries often connect the old European art to classical music, Native and Polynesian art with traditional flute music, and so on and so forth. Documentaries are really to blame for this, particularly art and culture documentaries, pairing famous artworks alongside music that just gets stuck in your head.
However, it’s not just documentaries, as I mentioned earlier. Movies, too, sometimes only vaguely related to the artwork, can have music that can pop into my head, despite not even being in the same country (in some Roman churches, the soundtrack to Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame kept playing in my head). For some reason, my mind connects one to the other, and there’s no way to get out of it. And I’m certainly not the only one.
But where do memes come in? Well memes, the epitome of how people process pop culture and politics in the name of humor. These can take shape in the form of pictures, videos, and just about any other digital medium that you can work with. While sometimes art is used to make clever historical memes (there was a period of Washington painting memes that flooded my dash), the gifs and videos are what really get me.
Oftentimes the gifs are attached to some dumb song or another, and the videos are edited to have music in them. So rather than classy music binding itself to art in my mind, its dumb music that makes me smile or crack up. It’s dumb, but my mind seems keen on connecting my memories to the present, something I’m certain all of our brains do. Brains like to do stuff like that, especially when we get a first glance at famous works via pop culture. Sometimes it’s kind of nice, and other times it’s not.