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ICA stages exhibition of best virals

LONDON - The Institute of Contemporary Arts has teamed up with Channel 4's IdeasFactory to launch an exhibition celebrating viral ads called 'Outrageous and Contagious', a title that picks up on the medium's association with the controversial.

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From incredible spoofs to still images, viral emails have become a cultural phenomenon with the ability to quickly spread across the globe.

What essentially began with glorified chain mails has now become so sophisticated and successful that it warrants its own exhibition and spawned an award ceremony.

The exhibition consists of a showcase of classic, weird, funny and outrageous virals, including a Sky News viral that featured the text "Bush: one of the worst disasters to hit the US", under a picture of George W Bush, Ali G talking about drugs to the British drugs czar and the Volkswagen Golf ad that featured Gene Kelly singing in rain.

It will be followed by a summit where participants can discuss the phenomenon, share ideas and talk about its future.

The exhibition will also include the launch of this year's Germ, the second annual viral 'Oscars', which includes categories such as 'best video viral' and 'best commercially produced viral'. The nominees will be judged by an expert panel of digital, creative and broadcast professionals. Entries can be submitted at the Germ site: channel4.com/germ, from July 4.

Adam Gee, who is commissioning interactive editor at Channel 4 and responsible for the IdeasFactory, said: "Virals are the best expression of the democratisation of creativity. 'Outrageous and Contagious' is an inspiration for anyone with the urge to pick up the digital tools around them, like a mobile video phone, and create an entertaining or resonant viral that spreads around the world."

Working with Channel 4 on the exhibition has been viral site Bore Me, digital agency Ralph and viral promoter Hot Cherry. The exhibition will run from May 1 to 8.

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