While we wait for Covid-19 to do its dreadful thing
Before we can meet safely at the University of East London for A&SM#5 (https://viralcontagion.blog/asm5-summer-2020/)
Affect & Social Media#4.5 and Sensorium Art Show present: Media Virality and the Lockdown Aesthetic
Call for papers, performances and artworks
DEADLINE EXTENDED TO June 12th 2020 250-word proposal emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
A full programme of links to pre-recorded videos, short position papers, artworks, performances, presentations, book launches, and online discussion groups, and so on… will be released throughout a two-day period in mid-July (tbc).
Before Covid-19, the concept of universal virality cut a hitherto marginal figure in media theory. References to contagion, immunology, epidemiology and viral networks were of ancillary concern. After all, media and communication studies were supposed to be about establishing connection; not the opposite of it! Viral metaphors referred to trivial contagions of fads, crazes and marketing hype. Some media theorists optimistically translated these metaphors into the media viruses and spreadable media of participatory culture. However, now, all of a sudden, unpredictably, and rather shockingly, viral media stands at the centre of contemporary issues both materially, economically, and socially. In the wake of global uncertainty and anxiety caused by the uncontainable spread of Covid-19, there has been an abrupt move to the viral – from the margin to the middle.
Covid-19 draws urgent attention to the workings of a viral logics that criss-crosses from biological to cultural, technological and economic contexts. Virality is a techno-social condition of proximity and distance, accident and security, communication and communication breakdown. Indeed, it is in the current context that our understanding of the movement of people and messages is framed by the logics of quarantine and confinement, security and prevention.
Virality automates affective reactions and imitative behaviours that relate to different visceral registers of experience compared to those assumed to inform the logic of the market. Which is to say, the mainstream cognitive models that are supposed to support the failing economic model of rational choice (if indeed anyone really ever believed in Homo Economicus) are replaced by seemingly irrational and uncontrollable financial contagion.
Recent outbreaks of panic buying of toilet roll and paracetamol, some of which have been sparked by the global spread of Instagram images of empty supermarket shelves, are spreading alongside scenes of isolated Italians, impulsively bursting into songs of solidarity and support from their balconies. All of these are bizarre contagions because, it would seem, they are interwoven with contagions of psychological fear, anxiety, conspiracy and further financial turmoil; all triggered by the indeterminate spread of Covid-19. Virality is resolutely non-metaphorical.
To think these contagions through is, for a number of reasons, a difficult task. We are after all dealing with an ecology of technological, biological, and affective realities moving about in strange feedback loops. Future predictions are taking place against a backdrop of contested epidemiological models, reliant on, for example, the uncertain thresholds of herd immunity or total social lockdown. Certainly, following a sustained period of comparatively stable risk assessment, mostly based on known knowns and known unknowns, we have just entered a vital, possibly game changing phase in which unknown unknowns will prescribe the near future.
We welcome suggestions inspired by, but certainly not limited to this list of topics
- Media viruses
- Conspiracy contagions
- Revolutionary contagions
- Viral modelling
- Accidental contagion
- Panic buying
- Media health and media contagion
- Care contagions
- Spreadable media
- Social theory and contagion
- Financial contagion
- Ethics of virality
- Lockdown aesthetics
- Biopolitical containments
- Viral patterning of habit and behaviour
- Social distancing
- Herd immunity
- Contagion theory
- Viral flows/events
- Racist contagions –g. maskaphobia
- After lockdown
- Novel spatiotemporal viral realities, yet to come
- New political assemblages
Deadline for short (250 word) proposals June 12th
Emailed to email@example.com
Further information about A&SM#4.5 will appear here on the Virality Blog (https://viralcontagion.blog/asm4-5/).
Please note that this event is free for all. The organisers cannot pay for any content or content production.
The blurb for A&SM#4.5 is based on Les logiques nouvelles des médias viraux Par Tony D. Sampson et Jussi Parikka. Published in AOC Journal 09.04.20 https://aoc.media/analyse/2020/04/08/les-logiques-nouvelles-des-medias-viraux/
English version here: https://www.boundary2.org/2020/04/tony-d-sampson-and-jussi-parikka-the-new-logics-of-viral-media/
See also this video primer on Virality