Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dead In Iraq

An artist named Joseph DeLappe has come up with an interesting project:

I enter the online US Army recruiting game, "America's Army", in order to manually type the name, rank and date of death of each service person who has died to date in Iraq. The work is essentially a fleeting, online memorial to those military personnel who have been killed in this ongoing conflict. My actions are also intended as a cautionary gesture.

I enter the game using as my login name, "dead-in-iraq" and proceed to type the names using the game's text messaging system....I stand in position and type until I am killed. Upon being re-incarnated I continue to type.
Just for the record, here's how the U.S. Army describes America's Army:
The game is designed to provide an accurate portrayal of Soldier experiences. The game is an entertaining way for young adults to be educated about the U.S. Army and see some of the career opportunities available to Soldiers in the U.S. Army — all this as a virtual Soldier....

Just as is the case with the Army, the game has a firm grounding in values. The game establishes rules for engagement and imposes significant penalties for violations of these rules.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you seen KUMA\WAR? It's an online game that has "missions" based on actual war operations "just weeks after they occurred." S was involved (or at least in the area) in two of the operations they have listed, "Escape from Asadabad" and "Operations Whalers."

The ultimate example of war as entertainment, and the endless cycle of one leading to the other (and back again). Kuma claims to be doing all of this out of 'honor' for the troops and their 'sacrifice,' so that the rest of us can truly understand what they're going through over there (from the comforts of our comfy chairs, of course). It's completely twisted and yet makes absolute sense in the beginning of the 21st century.

"America's Army" has been a huge success for the military. It has helped them recruit thousands of soldiers and, according to Army's press at least, they're recruiting soldiers with more 'skills' for killing (or at least more skills at playing the military's video game). Years ago I read David Grossman's On Killing, about the military's use of video technology to lessen the tendencies of soldiers to shoot around the enemy. It's difficult to get people to kill other people, apparently, and though the technology has made the 'kill ratio' higher, it's done nothing to lessen the psychological effects of killing on soldiers, particularly PTSD. You'd think all of these madcap first-person shooter games would have 'improved' that since Vietnam, but apparently not. Still by the army's own estimates about 30% of soldiers are returning from Iraq with PTSD. You've got to figure it's even higher if that's what they're estimating.

DeLappe's art project is truly interesting. It's impossible not to see the horror in the military's game-from-war, yet it's obvious that there's no other way to sustain a voluntary war fought by voluntary soldiers than to coerce young people into 'playing' with the flashing images of a small screen (the money helps too, I know, and so does our deeming of all actions by soldiers 'heroic'). Thanks for pointing to it, Phila.