On April 6, 2009,New York-based artist David Horvitz, known for his quirky DIY projects, posted a picture of himself with his head in a freezer on his Flickr account. Under the photo read:
That same day, a friend of Horvitz posted another photo using the same freezer. Two weeks later, 241543903.com was created, with the intention of “Experiencing a MEME in the Making.”
For those of you who don’t know, a meme is essentially a unit of culture (weird way of putting it, I know, but think along the lines of a video, an idea, or a catchphrase) that spreads, in this case via the Internet, and essentially goes viral. With 241543903.com, Horvitz and friends attempted to document this idea as it evolved into a meme.
And, oh, did it ever. By January 2010, there were over 100 photos with the caption “241543903” on Flickr alone. In today’s world, with Lady Gaga videos getting millions of views on YouTube within mere minutes, 100 photos may not seem like a lot. But this project, remember, is not just Internet-based. These 100+ people found out about the project, left their computers, physically stuck their heads into their freezers, took photos, and posted them online. When looked at from that perspective, 100 is quite a lot of people.
And that was just in January. Since then, the project has expanded from Flickr to other social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and Tumblr. And if you do a Google image search of 241543903 right this second, over 5,000 photos show up, all of different people, all around the world, sticking their heads in various freezers.
My favorite part about the project, aside from its undeniable success at achieving what it set out to achieve, is the variety of photos that people took. I love that the project is very straight-forward (“take a picture with your head in the freezer”) and yet open to endless interpretations. Here are a few of my favorite 241543903 pictures (I’d love to see the customers’ reaction to the person who stuck his head in a freezer at the supermarket), but, as you know, you can do a Google search and find which ones you like best.
241543903.com was created a year a half ago, but it’s still very active. The blog is filled with video documentation of the project, video responses from participants, and updates from the creators. Also check out knowyourmeme.com, a site that documents various memes around the globe, including the Heads in Freezers (http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/241543903). Who knows? Maybe it’ll inspire you to create your own meme, and maybe one day it’ll catch on and Radar will do a Pulse feature on it. One can only dream.
And don’t forget to stick your head in the freezer!