InitiativesThe Future of War: Aesthetics, Politics, Technologies

What do the Department of Defense and the computer gaming industry have in common? What kinds of strategic alliances is the Pentagon making with Hollywood? How is the American Institute of Architects connecting with the military’s designs for a “new security environment?” Are artists collaborating with, exposing, or resisting the military by deploying the same technologies of simulation, data surveillance, tracking, and computer vision in their work?

An internationally renowned group of panelists explored these and other questions in The Future of War: Aesthetics, Politics, Technologies, a two-day conference organized by Wayne Ashley that examined increasingly complex exchanges between the military, the entertainment industry, the computer industry, media, and arts. What impact do these exchanges have on war, technology and related visual cultures in the American public sphere? How is war—as concept, technique and practice—reorganizing our everyday life and sense of future?

The conference looked at war, not simply as a utilitarian means to an end, or within the more familiar political and strategic accounts of it, but as a cultural process involving particular ways of seeing, narrating and imagining—from the physical and virtual spaces of war, to the cinematic language of Hollywood combat films, from online gaming and military simulations, to the computer and installation work of artists. Participants debated the political and cultural impact of technology on security and violence, as well as the strategies and consequences of how war is being visualized and increasingly digitized.

Participants included John Klima, Joy Garnett, Alexander Galloway, Nathalie Jeremijenko, Laura Kurgan, Matt Adams, Carl Skelton, Eddo Stern, Lebbeus Woods, Tom Keenan, Thomas Y. Levin, Helen Nissenbaum, Benjamin Bratton, Keller Easterling, Eyal Weizman, Kadambari Baxi, Allen Feldman, Michael SHapiro, McKenzie Wark, Peter J. Dombrowski, James Der Derian, and J.C. Herz.