Earlier this year at FAT Lab‘s show at Eyebeam in New York, bad ass motherfucker Evan Roth had an installation called Ideas Worth Spreading. Basically, the installation is a mock stage setup for a TED conference, the popular conference with the tagline “Ideas worth spreading.” Getting to give a TED talk is considered a pretty high honor in some circles, but naturally not very many people get to give them. Roth’s Ideas Worth Spreading gave anyone who stopped by Eyebeam the opportunity to at least appear like they had given a TED talk. Naturally, lots of people pretended to give TED talks, took photos, and shared them on social networks, getting plenty of kudos from their friends in the process.
Roth recently posted an update about Ideas Worth Spreading on his blog. As it turns out, a few of the photos were reposted and shared enough that a Google Images search for “ted talk” brings up some of the Ideas Worth Spreading photos in the results. As you can see below, there’s even one Ideas Worth Spreading pic within the first 10 images of the “ted talk” search (it’s the one at the top of this post).
You may be asking, “Isn’t this Vandalog? What the hell does this project and some Google Image search results have to do with street art?” Hear me out. This is what my upcoming ebook Viral Art is largely about. In Viral Art, I argue that this project falls into a category that I call active viral art, and that street art is also active viral art. Basically, active viral art is art that is imposed upon an unsuspecting audience. That’s what street art is on the street, right? Artist decides to put up work in a public space for an unsuspecting audience, bypassing any art-world gatekeepers in the process. Well, now that we spend so much time in front of screens and online, the internet is a kind of new public space. What Roth has done here is put up his work in this new public space for an unsuspecting audience. In this particular case, I guess the street art equivalent would be a subtle ad disruption.
Am I crazy or am I on to something? Let me know what you think in the comments. I can’t wait to more of my thoughts on active (and passive) viral art later this year when the Viral Art ebook is released (for free of course).
Photo and screenshot courtesy of Evan Roth