When we think of something as "viral," we often think of the transit of electronic information at an intensified speed and reach. Viral also refers to indiscriminate exchanges, often linked with notions of bodily contamination, uncontainability, and unwelcome transgression of border and boundaries. In this issue of WSQ, the editors invite a rethinking of institutions of education, family, religion, health, military, media, and law to inaugurate an inventive cultural criticism on topics ranging from social media, hacking, clouding, and financial markets to pollution, genetics, and robotics.
Viral will also include interdisciplinary artists' projects, each exploring the technological, political, and biological registers of viral culture. These include a meditation on the US military's use of PowerPoint slides and an experiment involving the artist's own hepatitis C-infected blood and plant life. An ongoing social media campaign is being created with input from media maven Johanna Blakley, managing director of research at the Norman Lear Center, University of Southern California, and will continue after the issue is published.