The Great Game Favorite 



Oct 16 2001



The Great Game is a Java applet consisting of a realtime 3d terrain map of the Afghanistan region, depicting munitions, aircraft, targets, and troop movements for each day of the conflict. The Artist culls by hand the daily data from Department of Defense press briefings. Available information regarding type, quantity, and location of munitions and strikes are represented by play pieces created by the Artist from military diagrams. The Artist created the game board from raw ascii elevation data, also supplied by the military. Every 60 seconds a new day is downloaded and displayed on the map, the previous day's play pieces are cleared from the board and a new day commences.

In selecting this textual figure (the war in Afghanistan), Klima returns to a trope now receiving long overdue attention, one he has long advocated and already demonstrated his mastery over: computer games. People are dying, millions (if not billions) of dollars worth of the Western arsenal is being expended and yet, when this data is presented to the user/viewer thru a computer, what is it... what does it become? The signifiers which tell us that this is other than a game, other than an amusement or pastime, are things we must supply ourselves. The partial news-blackout surrounding the campaign, so disappointing to the mass-media audience who found in the Gulf War of a decade ago a sort of amped-up remote fireworks display, leaves little information beyond the organically valueless ciphers Klima employs by way of the icons used to convey information on the progress of the war. So it is given to the user/viewer to take those icons (the information is updated on a daily basis) and make the crucial critical determinations which separate "sign" from "symbol".

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