Wafaa Bilal recently detailed his work to We Make Money Not Art
and told how his exhibition Virtual Jihadi
, which uses computer games as a platform, had been closed early
at both the Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute and the The Sanctuary for Independent Media.
The exhibition is based on the Al-Qaeda produced game, The Night Of Bush Capturing
, which is in turn based on the 2003 American game, Quest for Saddam
. Both games have been described as clear propaganda and have players trying to kill leaders of each nation at the time.
Bilal's exhibition was a remake of these games which starred himself as a suicide bomber charged with killing President Bush. Bilal himself was born in Iraq but is an American citizen and currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.
"My underlying premise for this piece is that hate is being taught - it's not a natural emotion,
" Said Bilal in a public statement. "Video games are one of the technologies being used to foster and teach hate. I am especially concerned by the ones created by the US military, which are intended to brainwash and influence young minds to become violent.
"Though Al Qaeda's game where Bush is hunted down and killed generated much international outrage, the U.S. Army's own free on-line game is equal to the Night of Bush Capturing in its propaganda motives. Since I belong to both nations fighting in this current war, and since I am an American, I have the ability and right to question my own government's use of these video games to teach violence and hatred.
Bilal recently presented and exhibited his work at both the Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute and the The Sanctuary for Independent Media, but both venues closed the exhibition early on the basis of "code volition
Bilal, who found internet fame for an art piece which allowed viewers to shoot him 24/7 with a remotely-controlled webcam-equipped paintball gun (which was fired 40,000 times in two weeks), is asking art lovers to support him
in protesting these closures. Of course, whether you want to support or ban his work depends on your viewpoint - do you think games are a legitimate artform for communicating these messages? Let us know in the forums