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Image from Going Viral.

A recent project by Derek Curry, Assistant Professor (Art + Design), and Jennifer Gradecki, Assistant Professor (Game Design + Media Arts), explores and highlights the dangerous misinformation spread by celebrities, influencers, and people of power during the COVID-19 pandemic. Entitled Going Viral, the interactive artwork debuted in Scotland in mid-November, and is currently available online.

The interactive artwork features videos of algorithmically generated celebrities, social media influencers, and politicians who have previously spread misinformation about the virus. In the videos, the influencers deliver public service announcements or present news stories that counter the misinformation they have spread. The project touches on several key themes: the role of social media platforms in spreading – or stopping the spread of – fake news, how to approach anecdotes that promote harmful ideas, and the importance of media literacy education, among others.

Viewers are invited to share the videos on social media to help intervene in the current “infodemic” that has developed alongside the coronavirus. Read more about the project in this article.

Going Viral was commissioned by the NEoN Digital Arts festival, which is a hybrid mix of exhibitions, installation, performance, and sound. For this year’s festival, the theme was “Share, Share Alike,” which challenged artists to explore what sharing means, with the goal of drawing attention to our shared ecosystems, the empowering potential of file sharing, and the necessity of the creation of new digital economies. Curry and Gradecki’s project is part of their ongoing research on the spread of misinformation and neural networks.