In August 2020, the science publication Nature announced, “COVID-19 is here to stay”, a prophetic declaration, and still relevant, even with the hope of vaccines. We took this statement as inspiration for our thematic title of Viral Futures for the sixth edition of Both Sides Now.
Commonly, the term ‘viral’ leads us to associations with social media; how an idea can be captured, usually in an image, phrase or video, and shared (transmitted) dynamically across the globe. Over three billion images are shared across the world every day. Memes and soundbites digitally multiplied by human hosts. Virally spreading across the internet allowing memetic ideas to infect the next carrier.
This dynamic digital transmission also exists in computer viruses, though the vector is maliciously different. Digital viral pathogens invading computer programmes is a global phenomenon; according to one IT security institute over 1.1 billion new computer viruses will be created in 2020. According to Forbes, the global cybersecurity market is worth $173 billion (USD), and is set to rise to $270 billion by 2026.
Beyond the familiar digital concepts associated with the term viral, we have notions related to the obvious biological ones. Those of disease, sickness and death. Ironically, our own evolution and existence could be as a result of viruses. Pandemics and epidemics lead to adaptation in populations, evolving species. Over millions of years, viruses have affected cells at every level. About 8% of human DNA has viral remnants. We can expect viruses to continue to affect how life evolves far into the future. Through Both Sides Now 6 we explore notions of viral phenomena; from ideas and the ways in which they are transmitted to reproduction and evolution. Both Sides Now 6 brings together work by 11 artists in a curated programme of film and video from across the globe. Including work by Bob Bicknell-Knight, Chen Pin Tao, Adrian Garcia Gomez, Lu Yang, Laura O’Neill, Pak Sheung Chuen, Clifford Sage, Angela Su, Shinji Toya, Cattin Tsai and John Walter.