Tag: Olga Goriunova

Details of The Image of the Network, Symposium at Winchester School of Art, June 16th 2015

The Image of the Network, Symposium

Organised at the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton by Yigit Soncul and Jussi Parikka

Tuesday June 16, 2015

Rotunda (East Building)

Free registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-image-of-the-network-symposium-tickets-6512562249

The Image of the Network is a one day symposium that explores the connection between aesthetics, politics and technology. New technologies of addressing the involuntary aspects of human cognition open up the topics of both affective design and new modes of preemptive surveillance. The double logic of security and commerce is an effective context in which the contemporary platforms of design and aesthetics are to be understood, at the centre of the so-called control society, as posited by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze.

This agenda opens up issues of surveillance, anticipatory logic of networks and art practices important to this technological infrastructure. The aim of the event is to problematise and initiate a debate on the contemporary politics of embodiment and visuality through such themes of network politics. The topics map the definitions of the image in an age that is characterised by concepts such as contagion, immunity, affect, the involuntary, preemption and premediation.


10.30 Opening Words by Jussi Parikka and Yigit Soncul

10.40 Tony D. Sampson, (Reader, UEL)

Waking the Somnambulist: The Capture of Affect, Attention and Memory (and Why We Need New Weapons to Stop it)

11.20 Olga Goriunova (Associate Professor, Warwick)

Digital Subjects: On Persons and Singularity in Calculative Infrastructures

12.00 Lunch break

13.30 Jussi Parikka (Professor, WSA)

Networks: Service Economy and Denials of Service

14.00 Yigit Soncul (PhD student, WSA)

Contagious and Immunogenic Images of the Network

14.30 Jane Birkin (PhD student, WSA)

Keeping Time: Archive as Secure Back-up for the Networked Image

15.00 Closing Discussion

Chaired by Prof. Ryan Bishop


The Image of the Network is a Design & Media Ecologies Lab event.


4 of 4 What Makes a Video Viral go Viral?

The Imperfect [Viral] Crime

We might say that viral marketers try to make their Trojans out of the same kind of stuff we experience when glimpsing strange cloud formations.


To be sure, the marketer must endeavor to be the trickster insofar as he tries to sustain the hallucination long enough to fleece those idiots still caught out staring into the sky. This is nevertheless the “imperfect crime” of viral marketing Fuller and Goffey discuss so well in their Evil Media chapter in The Spam Book: as they put it, the problem with viral marketing is that “the identity of the criminal needs to be circulated along with the act itself.”

So what makes something go viral? Well, isn’t this the elixir of marketing and political strategizing? It’s certainly not something that can be easily grasped. Aside from engaging with the imperfect criminal act, the viral marketer must also take into account the accidental environments in which phantoms exist. See, for example, the work of network market researchers like Duncan Watts who point to the accidents of influence. As Fuller and Goffey argue, as soon as the viral is pushed “into the [uncertain] realm of experiential communication [and] material affect,” the marketer can no longer rely on an encoded message to ensure the virus’s trajectory (p. 155). There are no assurances that things will go viral. The cloud might eventually become dispersed or get heavier and fall from the sky.

Forget the meme theory of viral marketing. It is in these uncertain realms of communication that the accidents of virality seem to persist irrelevant of how much memetic seeding takes place. Importantly then, the creativity of the idiot does not belong to the idiot-subject or the idiot maker, it would seem. The idiot is not simply created; he also creates himself and those idiots around him. Marketers have to bide their time, keep their distance, and wait for their phantom event to spread out. Nevertheless, with enough added idiocy, the attention of the collective hallucination will eventually be drawn to this or that point of distraction and the virus might just catch on.


Jon Ronson’s viral video: Thank God it’s Tuesday http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/video/2012/may/18/jon-ronson-viral-video-tuesday

Olga Goriunova, 2010 ‘Digital Media Idiocy’, Thinking Network Politics conference, Anglia Research Centre in Digital Culture,Anglia Ruskin University.

Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd, 16.

Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense (London: Continuum, 1990), 241–57.

Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey, “Towards an Evil Media Studies,” in Parikka and Sampson, The Spam Book, 155.

Clive Thompson, “Is the Tipping Point Toast?” Fast Company Magazine, February 1, 2008, http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/122/is-the-tippingpoint-toast.html

1 of 4 What Makes a Video Viral go Viral?

Idiocy and Contagion

In the Guardian last week there was an interesting piece on the documentary filmmaker Jon Ronson who was seemingly duped into appearing in a video viral by Patrice Wilson, the music producer behind the Rebecca Black music video Friday (see Jon Ronson’s viral video: Thank God it’s Tuesday). As Ronson soon realizes, the producer’s intention is to take revenge on him following an uncomfortable interview by making him look like a complete idiot. It suddenly dawns on him that “almost everything that goes viral, goes viral because someone looks like an idiot in it.” Like The Star Wars Kid, Leave Britney Alone and Gingers Do Have Souls, idiocy on the net is more popular than art, culture, and even disasters. 

This news story reminded me of a paper Olga Goriunova presented at the Thinking Network Politics conference in Cambridge a couple of years back. In a very amusing and perceptive presentation Goriunova provided some nice examples of truly idiotic and infectious internet virals, including the Russian singing sensation Mr. Trololo, in order to forward a novel conceptualization of what she called “digital media idiocy.”


This rich concept drew on a number of sources, but I mostly recall the references Goriunova made to Deleuze’s notion of idiocy in What is Philosophy? Whereas the “old idiot” looked for truth, Deleuze tells us, the “new idiot,” surfacing in the work of Dostoyevsky, “wants to turn the absurd into the highest power of thought – in other words, to create’ (p. 62). Likewise, Goriunova’s work pointed to the creative role of the idiot on the net.

I didn’t see Jon Ronson at the Thinking Network Politics conference, but perhaps he needed to be there to hear Goriunova’s paper. He looks very stupid indeed. But the question of the creative powers of the idiot, and moreover, how idiots are themselves made, is, I think, very interesting.