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April 29, 2006

Online Memorial and a Protest



Artist Joseph DeLappe presents documentation of a work-in-progress of online gaming intervention - dead-in-iraq. The project involves connecting to America's Army, the online first person shooter game/recruiting/PR tool of the US Army; DeLappe logs into the game using the screen name "dead-in-iraq" and, rather than have his character participate in the proscribed mission to seek and destroy opponents, DeLappe’s soldier functions as a passive participant. While his soldier is standing in place, DeLappe proceeds to type, using the game’s text messaging system, the name and date of death of all the soldiers who have died in Iraq, one line at a time. The text information appears on all team member’s screens interspersed with other messages from players and a running accounting of the progress of the game. “dead-in-iraq” is eventually killed by opposing players. A new game commences and the process continues. To date, over 300 names have been typed live into the gamespace. The project will continue until the end of the war. This work is intended as an online memorial and a protest.

Previous works in online intervention/gaming performance (Quake/Friends, Howl: Elite Force Voyager, ET tu Sir Alfred) may be viewed on DeLappe's website or by viewing his podcast now available on itunes.

Added on May 5, 2006


Deadly Games

All too often, public memorials honoring the victims of atrocities fall prey to bureaucratic processes in place to appease the living masses. Joseph DeLappe's newest project represents the work of one individual to honor the thousands of individuals who have now died in the Iraq war. This micro-memorial takes the form of an intervention in 'America's Army,' the online first-person-shooter video game used by the US Army to recruit new soldiers. DeLappe logs into the game with the user name 'dead-in-iraq' and proceeds to use the game's text messaging system to type the names, ages, and dates of death of recently deceased US soldiers in Iraq. Then he does nothing. He simply waits to be shot by other players, dies, and begins the process again, after being 'reincarnated.' Dead In Iraq is a thoughtful co-opting of the tools of digital culture to engage with the political issues raised in an era of high tech war. It is also one of a handful of recent online performances, staged in the diegesis of multiplayer games. The field of 'game art,' itself--of which this live performance is a unique extension--often meets criticism for its perceived lack of seriousness or its indulgence of nostalgia. But DeLappe's evocation of memory, in this game, is no laughing matter. He began the project in March of this year and has already input the names of 250 people killed in action since then. He plans to continue this action until the war ends. Until then, you can view screenshots of his participation in the game, and other users' responses to his messages, on the artist's website. - Marisa Olson, Rhizome News.

Dead in Iraq: It's No Game in Wired.

Posted by jo at April 29, 2006 12:47 PM