Frontline combines uneventful 3D 360 video documentation of a frontline position in the Donbass War in East-Ukraine with a spectacular battlefield soundscape produced in a movie studio. The work intertwines the documentary and the fictional in a representation of warfare that unsettles the promises of realism commonly associated with both documentary practice and virtual reality technology, and undermines expectations of spectacle that often surround representations of warfare.
The installation consists of a large enclosure (5x5 metres) with a brightly lit white space inside, reminiscent of sterile environments and sci-fi scenarios. Upon entering the space, a spectacular war soundscape breaks out from a loudspeaker array. In the middle of the space, a VR headset is suspended. As soon as you put it on, the soundscape transforms to a tranquil environment. A group of soldiers appear stuck in an endless smoking break, while an encounter with the troubled gaze of the artist hints at an ominous situation.
In March 2017, I travelled to the so-called ‘ATO zone’ (Anti-Terrorist Operation zone) in East-Ukraine with a press permit to document Ukrainian army and volunteer forces on the frontline. I subsequently went to Paris, where I worked at Cinéphase Studio to generate a war soundscape together with Shelly Bar On.
Artistic VR experience customized for modified Samsung Gear VR headset with custom sensors, and 5.1 loudspeaker array.
Sound editing: Shelly Bar On, Cinéphase Studio, Paris
Video editing: William J Bates, Equirec Studios, London
Programming: Dani Ploeger
Coordination Ukraine: Dmitry Kolchinsky
Construction: Stelios Ilchuk, Elisa Giorgi
Produced by Nimrod Vardi, arebyte Gallery, London
Supported by Arts Council England and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Dani Ploeger combines performance, video, computer programming and electronics hacking to investigate and subvert the spectacles of techno-consumer culture. Re-purposing, misusing, and at times destroying everyday devices, his work exposes seemingly banal and taken-for-granted aspects of digital culture as objects of both physical beauty and political power.
Among others, he has worked with traditional metal workers in the old city of Cairo to encase tablet computers in plate steel, attended firearms training in Poland to shoot an iPad with an AK47, made a VR installation while embedded with frontline troops in the Donbass War, and travelled to dump sites in Nigeria to collect electronic waste originating from Europe.
If you are interested in exhibiting or viewing this artistic VR experience, please send an email to us.