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Friday, May 29 • 1:15pm - 2:30pm
Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project - Performance

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Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project is an interactive installation originally made for the CAVE2TM large-scale 320-degree panoramic virtual reality environment that visualizes stories of violence and the post-traumatic stress experienced by ordinary American soldiers who became torturers in the course of serving their country. During the American-led counterinsurgency and counterterrorism campaigns in Iraq in the years after September 11, 2001, the torture and abuse of detainees regularly took place. The project is based on interviews of American soldiers and attempts to extend and make accessible difficult narratives based on the actual testimonies involved. These testimonies reveal that torture and other abusive interrogation methods were not isolated to Abu Ghirab and “black sites” but were a commonplace aspect of practices in the field during the Iraq war in the early 2000s.

The project is set within VR environments including ordinary American domestic spaces. Moving through and exploring each these rooms creates a sense of being immersed in the virtual environment. Using a controller, the navigator triggers individual objects, such as a toy truck, a Boy Scout poster, or a pair of wire cutters. When each object is activated, the walls of the domestic space fall away and a surreal desert landscape is revealed in 2D surrounding panorama, and one of four voiceover actors is heard recounting particular acts and memory related metaphorically to the object selected.

The virtual reality technologies are being used to represent a complex contemporary issue and to provide a platform for discussion of military interrogation methods and their effects on detainees, soldiers, and society. The project was developed through a unique international collaboration between artists, scientists, and researchers from four different universities: The University of Bergen, The University of Illinois at Chicago, Temple University, and St. Andrews University.

While the immersive virtual reality environment of the CAVE2TM provides for a very specific type of interactive experience, these types of environments have certain limitations. The CAVE2TM itself consists of 64 high-resolution 3D displays, an array of directional audio equipment, 32 CPUs, and custom-built software. There are currently only two of these facilities in the world. Artworks developed for CAVEs typically have limited portability, as one cannot simply transport the CAVE technology. Because Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project was developed in Unity, a platform typically used for commercial video game production, the project is now being ported to other environments that would make the project more accessible to new audiences.

The performance we propose will involve a performance of a portable version of Hearts and Minds suitable for projection. A high definition projector and a good sound system are required for the performance of the work. This version of work is operated using an Apple computer, wireless XBox controller and receiver. A cinematic environment would be the most appropriate setting for the experience of this version of the project. A full performance of the work would take about 45 minutes.

Speakers
avatar for Roderick Coover

Roderick Coover

Director, ELO Transmedia Literary Arts Fest
avatar for Arthur Nishimoto

Arthur Nishimoto

Research Assistant, University of Illinois at Chicago
Arthur Nishimoto is a Computer Science Ph.D student at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He is also a Research Assistant at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) specializing in user interaction, scientific visualization, and virtual reality.
avatar for Scott Rettberg

Scott Rettberg

Professor, University of Bergen
Scott Rettberg is professor of digital culture in the department of linguistic, literary, and aesthetic studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. Rettberg is the Conference Chair of the 2015 Electronic Literature Organization Conference and Festival, The End(s) of Electronic Literature. Rettberg was the project leader of ELMCIP (Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice), a HERA-funded collaborative research... Read More →


Friday May 29, 2015 1:15pm - 2:30pm
Auditorium Kellog Center

Attendees (30)