Part of the

Freedom of Movement Municipal Art Acquisitions 2018

25 Nov 2018 until 17 Mar 2019

Mini story — 23 Nov 2018

In her video and photographic work, Kate Cooper uses computer-generated images to destabilize the idea that images represent realities outside of their frames. While her previous work focused primarily on the depiction of women in advertising and popular culture, Cooper’s 2018 video Infection Drivers depicts a body undergoing continuous transformation. Drawing on the language used in medical textbooks to describe illness, the artist explores how different types of viruses invade and occupy unsuspecting hosts. Cooper is particularly interested in the body’s “sanctuary sites”—vulnerable areas such as the central nervous system where drugs cannot easily penetrate. 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.

Kate Cooper, 'Infection Drivers', video still, 2018, courtesy of Mondriaan Fund, AFK, Beam Systems and the artist.
Kate Cooper, 'Infection Drivers', video still, 2018, courtesy of Mondriaan Fund, AFK, Beam Systems and the artist.

Using the metastasizing virus as a model, Cooper investigates how images could come to act autonomously, unbeholden to any “real world” referent. The computer-generated body in this experiment functions simultaneously as a subject and object, occupying a liminal realm between fiction and reality.

Infection Drivers draws a connection between physical viruses and those associated with digital technologies, including viral images and computer viruses, and speculates about whether the form of viral proliferation could be appropriated and deployed as a weapon against exploitative labor. Through use of CGI technology, the artist challenges accepted understandings of the body’s limitations, instead enabling it to move free from the constraints of gravity, strength, or ability. The abstracted body in this scenario, which is without individualizing details, highlights the parallels between raw data and DNA, both of which constitute the component parts of a larger whole. Cooper points out that both bodies and data degrade and break down through bit rot, glitches, and obsolescence. The film thus destabilizes the notion of a “natural” body that stands in contrast to “man-made” media. Instead, it highlights their similarities, and questions how such overlap might lead to the production of new subjectivities and forms of 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.