Profile — 23 Nov 2018
In her video and photographic work, Kate Cooper explores how computer-generated images are complicating the division between subject and object. Destabilizing the idea that images represent realities outside of their frames, these images occupy a liminal realm between fiction and reality. While her previous work focused primarily on the depiction of women in advertising and popular culture, Cooper’s 2018 video Infection Drivers presents a body in conflict with itself. In the work, a computer-generated woman wears a translucent suit that inflates and deflates, evoking exaggerated stereotypes of gendered bodies. Through the use of CGI technology, the artist also challenges accepted understandings of the body’s limitations. Her avatar gets tired and sick, bleeds and is bruised. While computer generated images are primarily used within commercial production, Cooper suggests that they are infiltrating culture more widely, much in the way that a virus invades and occupies an unsuspecting host.
Infection Drivers investigates how images could come to act autonomously as they become dislocated from their intended use. In the work, Cooper also speculates about how capitalist forms of image production could be appropriated and deployed as weapons against exploitative labor. Cooper does this by asking whether these digital bodies could perform in our place, and allow us to refuse to engage in certain abstract forms of labor. She is particularly interested in the body’s “sanctuary sites”—vulnerable areas such as the central nervous system where drugs cannot easily penetrate. By destabilizing the notion that a “natural” body stands in contrast to “man-made” media, Infection Drivers raises the question of whether digital technologies could create their own sanctuary sites, which could potentially incubate and give rise to new forms of anti-capitalist logic. Ultimately, Cooper invites us to consider whether “bodies” produced by emerging technologies might contain new forms of political potential and self-care.
About the artist
Kate Cooper (1984, United Kingdom) was recently in residence at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, and at the Saari Residence in Hietamäki, Finland. Her work has been shown at venues including the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Tate Modern, London; Sonic Acts, Amsterdam; Public Art Fund, New York; International Center of Photography, New York; Serralves Museum, Porto; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; and has been featured at the Riga Photography Biennial and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.