In a culture oversaturated by new and newer technologies, individuals have become at once intertwined and yet, more detached from one another on both social and political levels. Such technologies as the television, the computer, cell phones and video games require viewer and audience interaction. While many of these platforms are mere simulations, at what point is the viewer implicated on a much grander, much more "real" scale? Interactivity seeks to explore and tread upon the boundary between interactive as generating play or fantasy without real life consequences, and interactive as having influence and an effect on real world matters, specifically in light of contemporary warfare.
Interactivity includes artworks and projects that require some form of interaction, whether it be mediated by technology or to be practiced in the real world. Each of the works represented beckons the viewer to question their own role in conflict and contemporary warfare. WWhat power do individual's have in light of such conflict? What control do we have over our own opinions and points of view? How do our actions in an interactive simulated setting implicate us as actual participants in contemporary warfare? To what extent have technological interactions replaced human interaction? Interactivity seeks to raise these questions, and more in the hope to incite further awareness about individual agency and the relationship between the passive and active action.
Playas: Homeland Mirage
Playas: Homeland Mirage by Jack Stenner
Playas: Homeland Mirage is a combined installation and video game that places participants in a training facility where they must stay alive while navigating the simulation of a city. Each new person who enters the gallery space, where Playas: Homeland Mirage is installed immediately becomes a participant in the game as well. When the bodies in the gallery space are projected into the installation, they have a ghost-like presence, which makes the simulation feel like a mirage. Playas: Homeland Mirage addresses the issues of constructed realities, forcing participants to consider how we are implicit in the world that we create. The mirage quality highlights the ambiguous line between simulation and real life. Playas: Homeland Miorage is also asking bigger questions about contemporary warfare: is our training effective? Is our reaction to terrorism warranted or is it also just another constructed reality?
Marksmanship Training by Chris Reilly
Marksmanship Training is a video game performance using "the official U.S. Army game," America's Army. With over six million registered players, this first-person shooter video game is used as a recruitment tool by the U.S. Army. The game "provides players with the most authentic military experience available, from exploring the development of Soldiers in individual and collective training to their deployment in simulated missions in the War on Terror." The fact that the army uses this game to recruit soldiers to enlist in the military blurs the very boundary between the interactive and the real. By playing the video game, one's actions are directly linked to the actual army experience. Marksmanship Training subverts and challenges this idea by allowing the player to shoot directly at his commanding officer. Video games beckon us to wonder, how are we impacted by the simulations we engage and interactive with? In being able to shoot the commander there is a violent outcry against the authority of the military, and despite the manipulative motivations of such a game, it gives hope that it is still possible to assert some sense of power.
(T)error by Robert Praxmarer
The tag line for the game (t)Error reads: Whom would you like to play to get the world back into right shape? A player's movements are tracked by a camera and projected onto a wall, and while it is their actions that are recorded, the player's politician of choice, George W. Bush, Osama Bin Laden, or rather Tony Blair, is projected onto the outline of their body thus they are filling in or acting as their chosen political figure. In this game however, to win one must fight "evilly" stealing money and kicking innocent civilians. As insinuated by it's name, (t)Error is a critical take upon the War in Iraq, the youth gaming culture, our media society and the abuse of computer games. (t)Error tries to lure people into participation through its "fun" game structure, however, the evil actions required to succeed in the game are meant to force people to reflect upon their actual participation in the war and the war on terror. At the same time (t)Error is a comment on the proliferation of video games and an attempt to dismantle the stereotyped roles and behavior patterns that the gaming industry teaches. By using the gaming and media culture it works to subvert the very actions and manners that these modes promote?dissociation, consumption, pseudo-happiness, depression. At what point does fun become serious, or even sad? How are these video games teaching individuals to behave, is there a line between the decisions one would make in a game, and those that they would choose in real life? Finally, (t)Error also works to explore the military abuse and exploitation of such games.
Conflict by Martin Allman
By clicking on an empty screen, one initiates quotes about conflict, and specifically about the conflict in Iraq. Because this piece starts out blank, it requires interaction to exist. Such a need for participation, beckons participants to take their own initiative to learn, and in this particular case, to learn specifically about conflict. As the sentences form depending upon where one clicks, there is a sense that we are all in control of shaping our own education, and the extent to which we will each participate in the conflicts surrounding us. The quotes do not disappear, however they do fade?never forgotten, but always underlying and overlapping with past and future conflicts.
BushSpeech by Max Min
Max Min has compiled the many phrases that Bush has said in former addresses, and has made them available for people to manipulate. In Bush Speech one can formulate their own sentences from the phrases that Min has archived, and force Bush to say them. The field of possibility here is almost limitless-- Bush can nearly say whatever you want him to. The critique of Bush and his administration is thus left to the hand of the participant. Min is addressing issues of authorship and authority with his piece. Power is taken away from Bush, and given to the participants. While the President, with American flag behind him is symbolic of authority, instead, here he becomes a blank symbol to which we can assign meaning and words.
One Free Minute
One Free Minute by Daniel Jolliffe
One Free Minute is a mobile sculpture designed to allow for instances of anonymous public speech. Anonymous callers to One Free Minute's toll-free line can record a message of up to a minute, to be broadcast in the public sound scape during performances. One Free Minute asks, what would you say, given one free minute of anonymous public speech? By providing a space for people's ideas and opinions to be relayed and heard One Free Minute encourages individuals to participate and vocalize their feelings on a plethora of issues. Such a project supports the idea of free speech and promotes people to try and make an impact through participation and interactive performance.
Do Something More Amazing
Do Something More Amazing by xtine
In response to the United States Air force website www.dosomethingamazing.com, xtine has created its own website, www.dosomethingamazing.com asking viewers, what amazing means to them, and challenging them to make these "amazing" things happen. Xtine's website features a variety of links to various programs aimed at encouraging people to participate in a series of peace efforts through voting, protesting, cooking, and volunteering or joining organizations dedicated to these peace projects. By using the vocabulary of the US Air force xtine is directly challenging the military's conception of "amazing" and by using the word "more" privileging her causes as better than the project of the military. What xtine is truly promoting is difference through interaction and participation, her piece is very much a call to action, in reaction to and in spite of the army.