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May 15, 2006

War Images

Via MobFilms: Joseph DeLappe's online gaming intervention, Dead in Iraq, in which DeLappe logs into the U.S. Army's online recruitment video game, "America's Army," to input all of the names of the military personnel killed in Iraq. So far, DeLappe reports that he has entered about 250 out of the 2,400 US soldiers who have died. DeLappe writes,

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.
DeLappe's decision to document this performance via stills is an interesting one, and many of the stills that DeLappe has accumulated show that other participants are responding to his intervention.

MobFilms also includes a pointer to Deborah Scranton's documentary, The War Tapes, a film I've discussed in the past. Both Dead in Iraq and The War Tapes make use of digital media and the internet in interesting ways in their attempts to represent war, with Scranton commenting about The War Tapes that "The unseen collaborator on the film is the internet. This is a Web 2.0 outside the wire – the intimate power of the internet exploding on the movie screen. Without instant messaging, the soldiers could never have become filmmakers – without email and cheap video, they soldiers could never have told their stories as they happened."

Update Via Alex, more interesting anti-war images: "Not Your Soldier," a flash video associated with Sir! No Sir!, a documentary about the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam. Sir! No Sir! will be playing in DC at the E Street Theater starting Friday, May 19.

Posted by chuck at May 15, 2006 2:56 PM

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Here's kind of an interesting blog post about a well-intentioned effort to build a virtual Darfur in the MMORPG "Second Life" in order to raise awareness about the crisis in Sudan. The author of the post, Ethan Zuckerman, is critical of the project because he thinks it's a misuse of resources saying, "collecting information - especially from people who are actually affected by these issues - is a much higher priority than presenting this data in a 3D format."

Everybody's got their own definition of what Web 2.0 is, but I'm really resistant to people calling a motion picture text "Web 2.0." Can the audience tag scenes with metadata and share it with other viewers? Is it somehow more retrievable than a typical video? "Web 2.0" is already an overused buzzword, but it does have a fuzzy meaning for some people. Although there may have been a collaborative process in making the flick, once there's a final cut, it's locked and not very two-dot-oh at all.

Posted by: McChris at May 15, 2006 5:25 PM

Thanks for the pointer to Zuckerman's entry. I think he articulates many of the reservations I've had about some of these well-intentioned attempts to represent Darfur in immersive environments. As he points out, "collecting information," or reporting and documenting what's happening, seems far more important.

I've resisted using the term Web 2.0 simply because I think it is already marked by the residue of the buzz and hype surrounding the term. I am intrigued by Scranton's discussion of the collaborative aspects of the documentary process but agree with you that once final cut is locked, that doesn't fit my understanding of the 2.0 concept.

Interesting thoughts.

Posted by: Chuck at May 15, 2006 5:49 PM

chuck, do you know that one public enemy song, the one that flavor flav screams to chuck d, "you gotta slow down, chuck, you're looooosing them man"? anyways, first, it's a great song. second, that's how i feel sometime with your blog - you're so prolific! long story short, thanks for this really interesting entry (not to mention mcchris's comment) - i hope to add a comment or two within a few days.

Posted by: david silver at May 18, 2006 1:01 PM

Yeah, I tend to become incredibly prolific when I should be writing other things. I have a Benjaminian-inspired impulse to collect and to make disparate connections, and sometimes I think that gets me in the habit of blogging too much. This "War Images" entry is partly a placeholder for my article on Iraq docs, which is currently with readers, although I'm hoping to update it before it's pub'd [or to turn the Iraq stuff into a longer project].

Posted by: Chuck at May 18, 2006 1:12 PM

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