Tech by VICE

I Bought Dank Memes at an Internet Market

The stand at the first US installation of the market known as Internet Yami-Ichi offered many Pepes, some of them rare.

by Kari Paul
Sep 13 2015, 9:00am

Image: Kari Paul/Motherboard

What may be the most valuable stand at New York's first Internet Yami-Ichi (loosely translated to '"Internet Obsessive Market') on Saturday was hosted by what are the world's first official meme traders.

Claiming to be certified by "the meme bureau" (the motto of which, according to a sticker given away at the stand, is "Let the first rare meme step forward"), a group of artists distributed memes to attendees of the event.

The selection was carefully curated, and included discount memes (common memes sold for one cent each), vintage memes (pre 2005 to 2010), memes from 2010 to 2015, and memes from 2015 to 2030 (futuristic memes) were all on sale at the stand, run by artist Cat Holtz and an artist pair called Twinhead.

"We wanted to do our best to recreate the experience of encountering memes online," Holtz said. "We wanted there to be a circulation of memes, so we have been shutting down the stand every so often and adjusting our prices based on market value."

According to this set-up, the rarest memes are the most valuable. Common memes (over-used Pepe memes, rage faces, and others) were the cheapest. Memes from the future, including a "Christmas Grandma" meme the artists invented sold for more. They had a rare pepe meme that was created by a Tumblr artist, for which they charged attendees a deposit of $30 to view.

"We picked memes we liked, we did some lost meme documentation, we picked some memes we can no longer find, we did our best to recreate the text," Holtz said of the curation.

Image: Kari Paul/Motherboard

For my meme purchases, I settled on a Pepe, a look of disapproval meme, and an Earthbound text bubble.

internet culture
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internet yami-ichi
cat holtz