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Art and Wargaming
A game of memorising the names of military operations
Keywords / Tags
- Visual identity,
- Soft power,
Festivals and Group Exhibitions
- Belgrade, Serbia, Play Cultures [svet digitalnih igara] Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade
- Novi Sad, Serbia, Play Cultures [svet digitalnih igara] Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina
- Rotterdam, Nethetlands, “International Filmfestival Rotterdam”, Exploding Cinema-section, Power : Play
- Yucatan/Mexico, “[R]-[R]-[F]” InteractivA’03 - Biennial for New Media Art, Museum of Contemporary art Merida; contribution for the web project: Remembering, Repressing, Forgetting
- Vienna, Austria, “Quo, vadis logo?”, Transeuropa, Quartier 21, Museumsquartier
- Belgrade, Yugoslavia, “KEF” Short Electronic Forms Festival, Rex B92 Qltural Lab
- Basel, Switzerland, “Viper” / International Festival for Film, Video and New Media category CD-ROM/internet, exhibited at Theater Basel; presentation at White Box, Theater Basel
- “K. und K. - Kraft und Konfekt”, presentation, Vienna, Austria
- “Gray Game”, lecture, Prva Kragujevačka Gimnazija, Kragujevac, Yugoslavia
- “Lapsus Memoriae”, presentation, Media Education Center kuda.org, Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
The lecture and presentation was held on 4th of July 2002 at kuda.org new media centre in Novi Sad. Till 2001 the 4th of July was celebrated as Day of the Warrior commemorating the beginning of armed rebellion of people of Yugoslavia during II World War.
Lapsus Memoriae / Lecture and Presentation at kuda.org Novi Sad
Speakers: Violeta Vojvodić, Olivera Stošić, Eduard Balaž
What is Memory?
An Internet game Lapsus Memoriae was produced during our residency in C3 at Budapest. It is based on traditional memory game, but in this case we use the names of military operations as a symbolic forms. The innocence of their names causes lapsus memoriae since their meaning is totally opposite to the effects that military operations have on a battlefield. That’s why this lecture starts with the question: What is Memory?
A memory is an ability to store, retain, and recall past experiences and to connect them with the present. Without memory we could not orient ourselves in reality. Lapsus Meomoriae is build upon paradox caused by the interference between signifier and the signified, between new information and existing memory trace. Due to the euphemistic name of a war operation all negative connotations connected to the war affairs are fading.
Most of the operations that we employed within Lapsus Memoriae are NATO operations. In information age cultural and media influence known as soft power becomes equally important as hard power which represents economic and military dominance. During last 50 years causes for war and its media presentation has been changing. The risks for NATO alliance can be chronologically divided in four groups:
- The First: the risk for western way of life, it is a period of Cold War. It is a very abstract danger and it was difficult for media consumer to identify with it.
- The Second: the risk for western interest, a current threat to hard power, to economic and military interest of NATO and its allies. It was a period of Gulf War, a belief in hi-tech warcraft and beginning of remotecontroled war without casualties. The media coverage of what-went-wrong situations and explicit combat were censored since they were considered to be too brutal and traumatic for media consumer.
- The Third: a possible risk for western security, but not direct threat to western interests. Those were interventions on Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda and Somalia. The key factors were human rights policy and just war doctrine. Media played a crucial role in these operations. They were very suitable for media manipulation since the viewer can easily identify with the suffering of civilians.
- The Fourth: a risk of terrorist attacks, marked by September 11th 2001 when NATO became the essential part of the campaign against terrorism.
Branding the Operation
When we were making a concept of Lapsus Memoriae we focused on marketing and visual presentation of war operation. A memory game was a symbolic base from which we started, then we chose certain number of war operations, we picked those with ironic and absurd names. This is Operation Desert Shield, an air force operation that supported much more famous land force operation the Desert Storm during Golf War.
For each operation we made a visual symbol, a logo. We picked Desert Shield because of its ironic “brand name”. In order to highlight absurdity of the name for each clip we made a word search. For example what is shield? The shield is something that should be used as a protection against blows or missiles, but in this case it ironically underlines the fact that it was the first time that depleted uranium munitions was used on a large scale in Iraq.
Defining Visual Identity
When we shaped lapsus memorie, we used a lot of factography and statistical data without moralizing attitude. This is Operation Shining Hope, Kosovo 1999 it was carried out within just war doctrine. On one hand we had optimistic name Shining Hope. On the other hand we had fact that out of 112 locations hit by depleted uranium munitions, only 11 were checked. The UNEP report stated that radiation was minimum, but anyhow it was recommended to NATO soldiers not to use local food and drink. When we defined visual identity we used an association of a shining star, a noble light, but we put it in a frame of radiation sign and ring-shaped lifesaver.
The only operation within Lapsus Memoriae that was not NATO operation is Operation Horseshoe. This is how the NATO analysts called actions of Yugoslav Army on Kosovo in 1999. The Horseshoe was a controversial plan of ethic cleansing of Albanians. It served as a ground for accusation of Slobodan Milosević for war crime at Hag Tribunal.
As a symbol horseshoe is considered to be a symbol of luck. In this case it acquired different connotation since we combined it with a footprint that symbolizes leaving. In contrast to NATO operations the names of Yugoslav army operations were more formal and they were process depictive. For example the operation of concealment the civil victims from Kosovo was called The Depth Two.
The Endless Justice in Afghanistan was the first operation within the campaign War Against Terrorism. The name was problematic for NATO’s regional allies due to their religious belief that only Allah is endless. Afterward they started new operation that was called Enduring Freedom.
The clips that we made for each operation feature quotation from NATO Press Release, for example like a quote “Violence does not serve justice, nor does it contribute to the establishment of a better and fairer society.” If we think about consequences that NATO intervention had on some countries this statement might sounds sarcastic.
In Lapsus Memoriae game nobody wins, since in the war games for what one player loses in terms of lives and injuries is not won by the victor.
… Unfortunately this is not the end.
Excerpt from lecture Lapsus Memoriae
4th July 2002 kuda.org, Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
In memoriam Edvard Begović, kuda.org