In our age of emerging infectious diseases and “epidemic” information sharing, becoming viral has come to be seen as an indispensable part of 21st century social life.
From Ebola to social media, internet memes, and online videos, what “goes viral” has come to underscore the potentials and dangers of our interconnected world.
Both vital and lethal, things viral are the subject of the new collaboration between United Photo Industries and the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH) at Cambridge University.
Shared, tweeted, liked, appropriated, manipulated: photography and short-form videos have become the undisputed visual language of our generation, a powerful communication tool at a time of shortening attention spans and simmering visual saturation. No longer able to imagine (or care to remember) a time unmediated by the social/digital experience, we have willingly surrendered our understanding of the world to the filtered collective-consciousness of the feed. In the words of conceptual artist Joan Foncuberta, “Images don’t represent the world any longer – images compose the world”.
Photographers and visual artists were invited to submit photographic images and short videos reflecting, questioning, and expanding on the notion of “viral” and its impact on everyday life and our understanding of the world.