From LOLCATZ to the appropriation of Pepe the frog as an alt-right symbol, the visual politics of virality and Insta-fame are largely mediated through the exchange of GIFs and memes—forms of democratized creativity that rely on the appropriation of images from popular culture. Join Optics series host Jillian Steinhauer, Curator of Digital Media at the Museum of the Moving Image Jason Eppink, and visual artist Andrew Kuo for a conversation that will examine the visuality, virality, and consumption of GIFs and memes in digital culture.

Optics: A New Way of Seeing Contemporary Culture is an ongoing series hosted by writer/editor Jillian Steinhauer that invites critics, artists, and imagemakers to analyze the pictures that shape contemporary culture and current events.

This is a free event, but please register in advance. ICP Members have access to preferred seating in our reserved members’ section.

Our ICP Museum–public program combination ticket grants $10 entry to the galleries starting at 4:30 PM to those attending the program. Tickets are only available online when you register for the program.


Jillian Steinhauer is a journalist living in Brooklyn, NY. She won the 2014 Best Art Reporting Award from the US chapter of the International Association of Art Critics for her work at Hyperallergic, where she was formerly the senior editor. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the New Republic, and The Nation, among other publications. She writes mainly about art and politics, but has also been known to go on at length about cats.

Jason Eppink is an American curator, designer, and prankster. His projects emphasize participation, mischief, surprise, wonder, generosity, transgression, free culture, and anti-consumerism, and they are staged in public spaces and online as street art, urban interventions, and playful online services and hoaxes, frequently for non-consenting audiences.

Eppink serves as curator of digital media at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. His work at the museum revolves around participation in a variety of fields, including video games, interactive art, remix, animated GIFs, and online communities.

New York–based artist Andrew Kuo makes graphic abstract paintings out of language, numbers, color, and data. Kuo is fascinated by statistics and creates mathematical equations to sum up situations in his life. He then creates meticulously constructed compositions on wood, canvas, and linen. Bright colors and rigid forms are combined with text that is heartfelt, sentimental, and playful to create mesmerizing geometric abstractions. He’s also a regular contributor to the New York Times. Kuo’s work has been exhibited in group and solo shows, including Marlborough Contemporary, New York and London; the Green Gallery, Gavin Brown Enterprises, New York; Casey Kaplan, New York; Artists Space, New York; Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Mass MoCA, North Adams; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit;and Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow.

TOP IMAGE: Devon Powers, Dena Yago, and Jillian Steinhauer at Optics: Brand as Visual Culture x Visual Culture as Brand at the ICP Museum. © Jacque Donaldson