August 14th, 2015
“Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project” is an interactive installation made for the CAVE2™ 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 was a commonplace tactic. The project is based on interviews of American soldiers and attempts to extend and make accessible difficult narratives based on the actual testimonies involved. By bridging together different stories and environments, the project uses visualization to provide conditions for stories to unfold—stories that connect the homes that soldiers come from and return to, with distant experiences of war. The immersion of the CAVE2 virtual reality theater allows for a different type of affective experience of the narrative, activated through the visceral immersion in the visual and auditory environment. The project represents a complex contemporary issue and provides 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 five different universities.
Keywords: Virtual reality, interactive installation, performance, immersive environments, visualization, art, storytelling, torture, digital humanities.
Tsoupikova, D., Rettberg, S., Coover, R., Nishimoto, A., Hearts and Minds: The Residue of War, 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA 2015), Vancouver, CA, August 14th, 2015.