Catch Me If You Can

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The high degree to which AIDS, terrorism, crack cocaine or computer viruses mobilize the popular imagination should tell us that they are more than anecdotal occurrences in an irrational world. The fact is that they contain within them the logic of our system: these events are merely the spectacular expression of that system. They all hew to the same agenda of virulence and radiation, an agenda whose very power over the imagination is of a viral character. ~ Jean Baudrillard, “Prophylaxy and Virulence.”

The first known computer virus was called The Creeper and would display this message on computers screens: "I'm The Creeper: Catch me if you can.” Black Iris presents CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, a show that brings together works from two artists and two collectives that explore the darker side of the creative impulse. Through these four works we see an investigation into the history of creative warfare, both cultural and biological, as well as attempts to excavate humanity in catastrophe. They do so by using catastrophe as their canvas, disaster as their form - a world to dwell in and dwell upon - reaching out to provoke thought, action or empathy.

Bob Paris and Jeff Lassahn from The Cluster Project present The Children Experiment, which situates the effects of modern warfare at home in the UnitedStates. By leaving faux traces of cluster bombs (bomblettes) scattered around playgrounds, the collective documents the children’s interaction with these devices while asking the question, “What if this was happening to your family?”.

Frank Heath’s “Asymptomatic Carrier” documents from a journey through a constructed narrative: a recorded telephone conversation with a Brooklyn-based flag maker is soundtrack to video documentation of a now-defunct quarantine hospital on North Brother Island, NYC. Heath, through his languid address, unravels the history of this site, the former home of Typhoid Mary for over two decades, and how this has become his home. Whether fact or fiction, the sincerity in the artist’s voice reveals a vulnerability of the body to disease and to the danger of isolation.

For ChannelTWo t41nt3d Love (read “Tainted Love”), the creation of virus and delivery system is itself the artwork. A collection of uncompiled computer virus codes and two CH2 custom executables bundled on usb drives stand as surrogates for human desire, love and destruction. The potential embedded in these objects is infectious to us as viewers, an almost automatic impulse to possess and use one of these infected drives. Only after our initial desire is recorded in the devastating effects of these seemingly innocuous devices can we begin to think about why we are drawn to such potentially disastrous outcomes. During t41nt3d Love's first installation, 7 of the 36 virus packages were stolen: a fact that provides indisputable evidence and documentation of the impact of the desire these tiny objects elicit.