Belgian-born conceptual artist Tom Galle works in the realm of internet culture, his fast-paced and quick-witted art keeps up with the speed of the internet; mimicking the simple yet effective language of memes. Speaking to It’s Nice That, Tom explains, “I’m mostly interested in meme culture and how it’s now global language is completely reshaping our contemporary culture”. Tom’s work captures the immediacy of the internet, applying its set of codes with humour to successfully communicate his digital work. “My audience is mainly internet based, so my ideas capture people in a few seconds time while scrolling through their feed” says Tom, the work “takes people’s attention with a simple concept that taps into internet culture which people can relate to”.
Memes have become a reflection of today’s society, and our collective feelings as a species can be tracked through meme trends. “Memes are about simple feelings really, made with a set of laws along with wit and shared by large communities who often don’t know each other but feel the same way”, explains Tom. “In memetic cycles, memes are re-appropriated constantly into other memes they relate to, and as a result bond together. You can see this in all aspects of life ranging from very intense political meme trends to the mundane ones about gaming. I like to use that language and through that memetic lens, address subjects around internet culture, technology, popular culture, contemporary branding, corporate culture, neoliberal doctrine, etc”. Tom’s work is often sarcastic, raising questions about our increasingly materialistic and superficial culture. He features popular brands like Apple and Nike to help communicate these messages, drawing inspiration from their ubiquity to make jokes about commoditisation, for instance, “Neoliberal Warriors”.
Tom’s work is at the forefront of internet art, easily finding its place amongst other viral material on social media. The work’s simple aesthetic mirrors its context of meme-culture while simultaneously adopts a visual language that works best with each concept. “My work is concept-centric so this approach gives me more freedom regarding aesthetic, I don’t have to worry about any type of visual limitation”, says Tom. “I never studied photography so I learnt my visual aesthetic through the internet. The work ends up more interesting and less predictable. I’d like to evolve to a point where people won’t know what to expect next”, the artist expresses.
Tom is best-known for the projects MacBook Selfie Stick and Tinder VR, which instantly went viral; seizing the digital zeitgeist of the social media generation. His work is distinctly performative and is Tom’s favourite part of making work; “the documentation becomes a bit of an automated process for ticking boxes to make sure people will ‘get’ the work through a series of images or video(s)”, explains Tom. “Coming up with ideas and seeing them come to life is the most fun, but I’ve been playing around with the idea of doing more performance-based work in a mini-YouTube series or something of that realm, somewhere where the context is a little less serious and more comedic”. This is just the starting point for Tom’s cutting-edge practice, although the platform of the internet holds the strongest appeal for the artist, his ideal is to combine his internet-based work with the gallery world; continuing to provoke humour with his sharp-witted work.
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