This project looks at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from an oblique angle. In the spring of 2007 I collaborated with a group of gamers whose hobby is to fight historical battles with toy soldiers on handmade dioramas. The outcomes of these war games, subject to the roll of the dice as well as knowledge of war strategy, inevitably diverge from historical truth. For my project, the gamers were asked to “play” an event in Iraq as it was happening.
The participants built a diorama representing an Iraqi town and painted the toy soldiers (many of which were drawn from pre-cast sets meant to be used in scenarios from the Crusades), while an Arabic-speaking research crew identified and tracked in real time, via Iraqi and Western websites and blogs, a situation developing during the days in which the game was played.
In the installation, video footage culled by the research team showing events on the ground in Iraq plays on video screens facing the diorama “game board,” while footage of the “game” itself loops on an adjacent wall. The project forces fantasy and fact, simulation and reality, to collide and interweave.