Abbey Road Memes

On August 8, 1969, photographer Iain Macmillan captures the Beatles crossing the street outside of their Abbey Road studio. This image used as the artwork to their last studio recording has now become one of music’s most iconic album covers. Forty-seven years on, this location has become a major tourist attraction and its zebra crossing a virally-transmitted cultural symbol. Its dissemination has spanned into the territories of music homages, sports, politics, parodies to social media selfies and more.
Similarly to Simon Sellars critique of Google’s satellite imagery, the Abbey Road meme presents a kind of distortion of reality where images from another epoch are spliced with the present, where fictional worlds from popular culture are superimposed and re-contextualised. Despite this, there is also a fidelity to reality, a third formation that exists outside of the novelty and parody of it all, one which reveals the convivial nature of social relations, the power of symbols to disseminate and regenerate through the internet.
In response to these ideas, I began making a catalogue of Abbey Road memes. Using a ‘hunt’ approach I then in-turn curated the images into sub categories, based on over arching themes that became apparent. There are re-workings of The Beatles themselves which I have referred to as meta Beatles, there are parodies, bands playing tribute, politics, and social snaps. There are thousands more, which in time might reveal more subcategories. How meta can we get?
In reflection, the result of this project presents the idea of books as a database, and much like platforms such as Pinterest, this book’s contents are curated and catalogued by social relations. The flow of this book is repetitive, reinforcing the circular nature of memes. Through this repetition, I was curious to see what meaning would be lost or gained at the zebra crossing. Would it still be amusing towards the end? Would its mythology be lost or heightened?

Project Notes:
P.O.D 210pp perfect bound book
Printed on a 70gsm matte paper
Typography: Gills Sans
Published by First Love Projects

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