Design and Violence

SERIOUS GAMES 1: WATSON IS DOWN

Harun Farocki, 2010

Desert war simulation

In the autumn of 2009, the artist Harun Farocki filmed a drill at Marine Corps base Twentynine Palms in California. He described the scene, in which four Marines in a classroom steered a simulated tank through a computer-animated landscape: “a street in the computer landscape runs exactly as it would in the real Afghanistan; the same holds true for every tree, the vegetation on the ground or the mountain ranges. The instructor places explosive devices and sets insurgents out in the area. A sniper shot the tank gunner, which we documented with the camera. The more vegetation there is, the less dust. On the asphalt street, no dust”. Farocki’s film, part of a larger video installation, documents the technology of war, and the way violence is simulated and distanced from its enactors. “Even with all this attention to detail, death in the computer game is still something different than the real one”.

Image: “Serious Games 1, Watson is Down” © Harun Farocki 2010