According to Wikipedia, a russian roulette is "the practice of placing one round in a revolver, spinning the cylinder and closing it into the firearm without looking, aiming the revolver at one's own head in a suicidal fashion, and pulling the trigger. The number of rounds placed in the revolver can vary. As a gambling game, toy guns are often used to simulate the practice. The number of deaths caused by this practice is unknown".
Carlos Katastrofksy used this concept in one of his latest netart projects, but replacing the shooting activity by the more zeitgeist behaviour of downloading. And if randomly shooting could easily take your life away "in a suicidal way", the random downloading of files with no safety guarantees whatsoever could easily take your computer's "life" as easy as the original roulette did. There is no possible ingenuity, "be aware!" the artist says. One can be about to download bad or dangerous data, but who can resist the thrill of risking your own beloved state-of-the art laptop?
But dangerous downloading isn't just the only important aspect here. like in any p2p application, downloading implies uploading, for a file to be downloaded by someone it has had to be generously uploaded by someone else. The files stored in Russian Roulette are the files people decided to share. We don't get to know who uploaded what, just their names (in a reminescence of The Original), a way of further combining the most important concepts of this project: file transfer (up and downloading), desire and risk.
Katastrofsky plays with something very interesting: the file sharing that takes place isn't utilitary (the information per se value), social (the relational value) or political (the free acces to information value). File sharing in this situation has only to do with desire, risk taking, by surprising or being surprised, by engaging in potentially dangerous behaviour or enabling others to do so... one yearns to engage in such activities. Risk taking is part of our contemporary society, no more an external threat, but an actual definig element of contemporary, western societies, Ulrich Beck said in his La Société du risque - Sur la voie d'une autre modernité (the french translation), and this project is such a good way of ilustrating that: desire and risk connected to the file sharing activity of our digital times.
Oh the thrill of downloading and opening an unknown file just for the sake of doing it... adrenaline rushes through the whole body...