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Image Macros: I'm in Your X, Y'ing Your Z

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Okay, now that I've spent the first three days of this week talking about LOL Cats, it's time to move on to something marginally more advanced: the "I'm in Your X, Y'ing Your Z" Image Macros.

According to several web sources (which are so not-work-safe I won't link them), this genre of Image Macros started with the statement, "I'm in your base killing your d00ds" (that last word being a Leet spelling of "dudes"), from a classic video game. Non-gamer translation: "You lose."

This Image Macro genre first came to my attention, you guessed it, as a LOL Cat:

After the jump, I explore some unique characteristics of the Image Macro, including a political Image Macro.

Of course, things had to go a level deeper than just Leet speak and cats. The day after the 2006 US Congressional Election, a version of the "I'm in your X, Y'ing your Z" Image Macro appeared showing Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Boing Boing featured the image, which read: I'm in ur house impeachin ur doodz." (They also featured a rather wonderful LOL Bird.)

Nancy Pelosi

Five days after the election, a top 10 list appeared, with a hilarious variety of Image Macros based on the theme. My favorite:

I'm in ur base killin ur doodz

So this is fun and all, but what's the point? Well, I believe that the Image Macro is a new form of art, native to the web. This new form has some unusual characteristics -- primary being that most images are by anonymous authors (though some communities create the macros collaboratively, with known authors). The images are frequently reproduced in blogs (*ahem* like this one), in which the main attribution is simply the location where the image was found. In their inherent anonymity, Image Macros are like Graffiti (minus the tagging).

Another unusual characteristic of Image Macros is the rapid adoption and evolution of new genres. A single popular image can spawn an entire genre of Image Macros with their own syntax and style. Responses to an original image range from copycat images (if you'll excuse the expression) to fairly complex new statements. You can see this in action in the "Invisible" LOL Cats, in which Invisible Bike leads to Invisible Bike Crash, and finally to Invisible Everything. While classical art is responsive in this way, the speed with which the genre is created, extended, and integrated with other genres is impressive.

Also, due to the sheer number of Image Macros in the wild, lots of sites have created their own collections, generally going on for many pages. We've linked earlier in the week to the LOL Cat blog, I Can Has Cheezburger -- after being linked by Digg today, they have shut down temporarily due to excessive bandwidth usage. Each of these sites is effectively an online museum of art, curated by amateurs. You can see the influence of the curator in some collections in which images have been presented in a particular sequence (it's a fairly crass example -- not for the easily offended -- but the "ceiling cat" sequence at the end of this collection shows what I mean).

Here's a small, non-ordered collection of some LOL Cat X/Y/Z favorites, to reward you for reading this far:

I'm on yer table trimn all yer plants

Bustin ur mythz

Im in ur truck makin the duliverys

Grammar Cat

So what do you think? Do LOL Cats and X/Y/Z Image Macros qualify as art?

Tomorrow we'll wrap up the Image Macro series with some unexpected evolutions of the form. Stay tuned!

Resources related to today's post: LOL Cat site with lots of X/Y/Z examples (many images above are from this site). See also the collection from the "Error: Access Denied" site.

This article is part of a series. Read the rest:

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Thomas Quine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Take a Peek Inside One of Berlin's Strangest Museums
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Thomas Quine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Vlad Korneev is a man with an obsession. He's spent years collecting technical and industrial objects from the last century—think iron lungs, World War II gas masks, 1930s fans, and vintage medical prostheses. At his Designpanoptikum in Berlin, which bills itself (accurately) as a "surreal museum of industrial objects," Korneev arranges his collection in fascinating, if disturbing, assemblages. (Atlas Obscura warns that it's "half design museum, half horror house of imagination.") Recently, the Midnight Archive caught up with Vlad for a special tour and some insight into the question visitors inevitably ask—"but what is it, really?" You can watch the full video below.

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Courtesy of Nikon
Microscopic Videos Provide a Rare Close-Up Glimpse of the Natural World
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Courtesy of Nikon

Nature’s wonders aren’t always visible to the naked eye. To celebrate the miniature realm, Nikon’s Small World in Motion digital video competition awards prizes to the most stunning microscopic moving images, as filmed and submitted by photographers and scientists. The winners of the seventh annual competition were just announced on September 21—and you can check out the top submissions below.


Daniel von Wangenheim, a biologist at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, took first place with a time-lapse video of thale cress root growth. For the uninitiated, thale cress—known to scientists as Arabidopsis thalianais a small flowering plant, considered by many to be a weed. Plant and genetics researchers like thale cress because of its fast growth cycle, abundant seed production, ability to pollinate itself, and wild genes, which haven’t been subjected to breeding and artificial selection.

Von Wangenheim’s footage condenses 17 hours of root tip growth into just 10 seconds. Magnified with a confocal microscope, the root appears neon green and pink—but von Wangenheim’s work shouldn’t be appreciated only for its aesthetics, he explains in a Nikon news release.

"Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and its underlying mechanisms, we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water, or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients," said von Wangenheim, who studies how plants perceive and respond to gravity. "One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space—to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions."


Second place went to Tsutomu Tomita and Shun Miyazaki, both seasoned micro-photographers. They used a stereomicroscope to create a time-lapse video of a sweating fingertip, resulting in footage that’s both mesmerizing and gross.

To prompt the scene, "Tomita created tension amongst the subjects by showing them a video of daredevils climbing to the top of a skyscraper," according to Nikon. "Sweating is a common part of daily life, but being able to see it at a microscopic level is equal parts enlightening and cringe-worthy."


Third prize was awarded to Satoshi Nishimura, a professor from Japan’s Jichi Medical University who’s also a photography hobbyist. He filmed leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations in injured mouse cells. The rainbow-hued video "provides a rare look at how the body reacts to a puncture wound and begins the healing process by creating a blood clot," Nikon said.

To view the complete list of winners, visit Nikon’s website.


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