June 11th, 2016
On June 11, 2016, at the annual Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) Conference at University of Victoria in Canada, “Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project” won the ELO’s 2016 Robert Coover Award for the best work of electronic literature of any length or genre. The award, which consists a monetary prize of $1,000, a plaque, and a one-year membership in the ELO, recognizes creative excellence.
Developed by Scott Rettberg (University of Bergen, Norway), Roderick Coover (Temple University), and Daria Tsoupikova and Arthur Nishimoto (University of Illinois at Chicago [UIC]), “Hearts and Minds” is a 3D narrative experience that was initially developed for the UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory’s (EVL) CAVE2™ virtual-reality environment. Based on interviews that John Tsukayma conducted with American soldiers who participated in or witnessed acts of abusive violence towards detainees in the counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan during the early 2000s, “Hearts and Minds” explores the circumstances and consequences of battlefield torture and its effects on those who participated in it.
One jurist wrote, “A major achievement. Rettberg and Coover harness the power of digital technologies to tell a powerful story and in doing so go far in changing the audience’s hearts and minds about torture.”
“Hearts and Minds” premiered at EVL in June-July 2014. It was subsequently ported to run on large, interactive 3D displays, and there is now an iPad version in the works. It has been shown at the IEEE 2014 Visualization conference in Paris; the Literature, Media, Sound conference at Aarhus University in Denmark (November 2013); the Paris 8 University (November 2014); the Human Rights/Human Wrongs International Film Festival in Oslo, Norway (February 13, 2015); the IEEE 2015 VR conference in Arles, France; the ACM SIGGRAPH 2015 conference (poster session) in Los Angeles; the HASTAC 2015 Conference at Michigan State University; the 2015 International Symposium on Electronic Art in Vancouver, Canada; and, the 2016 International Symposium on Electronic Art in Hong Kong.
The UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory, the UIC School of Design, Temple University, and the Norwegian Research Council supported the development of this project.
To learn more about this award, see:
To learn more about the “Hearts and Minds” project, see:
Learn more about “Hearts and Minds” premiere at the UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory, and watch a video.