While I was in Manchester, I had a visit to the Imperial War Museum because they had an art exhibit about how war has influenced contemporary artists. Almost all of them were critical of war.
One of the artworks on exhibition was 'The House of Osama Bin Laden' by Langlands and Bell, 2003. It was a 3D interactive reconstruction of Bin Laden’s house controlled by a joystick and non-functioning buttons. When you approach it you feel uneasy about the idea and there’s a bigger unease about actually controlling the view.
While we were there there was a group of young boys, probably about 13 or 14, from a school (it was still term time.) They were playing around in this part of the exhibition though I’m glad we caught them doing so:
We observed them interacting with the piece for about 7 minutes and just listened to their comments on the reconstruction. They had made reference to the style the reconstruction was in comparing it to a “rubbish minecraft” or that it looked like “call of duty”. It was obvious the boys were trying to find ‘the game’ part of the reconstruction which obviously didn’t exist.
I can see the link between the uncomfortable scene that was depicted and how modern video games depict war without the harsh impact that it leaves on societies and people. It only really hit me and the extent to which this misrepresentation that video games hold when the boys were there.
It was such a surreal moment.