In the news and in movies, wars often appear like exciting events, as continuous sequences of intense violent action. We do not see the waiting, the boredom, the dreadful emptiness of impending horror. The treacherous silence that fills most of the days at the forgotten frontlines of endless wars.
In March 2017, artist Dani Ploeger and journalist Catherine Chapman will travel to the ‘ATO Zone’ (Anti-Terroristic Operation Zone) in Ukraine with press permits to document the frontline. A month later, they will work at Cinéphase Studio in Paris to generate a war soundscape in collaboration with sound engineer Shelly Bar On.
The work will encompass 3 elements:
1. A white space (white walls, ceiling and floor; no windows), in which an immersive soundscape is played over an 8-loudspeaker array. The soundscape includes gunshots, distant artillery explosions, and sounds of manual gun handling against a backdrop of environmental sounds. In the middle of the space, two VR headsets are suspended from the ceiling. The soundscape will be heard at all times, regardless of whether visitors are wearing Headset 1 or 2.
2. VR headset 1, showing a 15 minute-long 3D 360 videoscape of military positions of the Ukrainian army. Shelling damage can be seen on the walls, but there is no enemy engagement. Soldiers are waiting. Catherine and Dani are seated among them, wearing flak jackets marked ‘PRESS’.
3. VR headset 2 shows a 3D 360 videoscape of a foley studio at Cinéphase Studio in Paris. Dani and Catherine are handling a variety of objects including (parts of) firearm mechanisms. Their actions coincide with the war sounds that are disseminated by the loudspeakers in the installation space. However, on closer inspection, viewers will notice that the foley actions in the videoscape are merely synchronized with the sounds they hear. The actual sounds have been post-produced and spatialized. The actions in the videoscape are just a make-belief performance. The audible sounds were generated afterwards by one of Cinéphase’s foley artists.