Friday, December 16, 2011
Lecture 2: Wafaa Bilal
October 27 2011 Wafaa Bilal presented a lecture of his work at UNR. His art work was the performance type, where as the artist performs to an audience. His work "Shoot an Iraqi" was one of his most famous works. He placed himself in a gallery space and made a program to have a computer control a paint ball gun in turn the computer would be connected to the internet allowing any visitor to his web site get direct access to his computer paint ball shooter. He then place himself behind a protective glass or use a shield to protect himself as he presented himself as the target. The audience who would log on to the site would be given the chance to fire paint balls at Mr. Bilal or not. He chose this method because of the current situation in the Iraq war. His motivation was pushed forward because of an interview that was given to a female airplane bomber captain. The main question that got Wafaa's attention was did she feel a bit of remorse for bombing an Iraqi stronghold. Her answer was that she had faith in her commanding officer's order and did not question it. This form of detachment of humanity, and the death of his father and brother along with the bombing of his hometown is what inspired to create "Shoot an Iraqi." This work showed how cruel human beings have become thanks to their detachment with their current government system. So many people tried to fire at Wafaa that his server crashed, but he was given help to fix the server and block people who were flooding the site. All of Texas had to be block because of the over flowing response to this website. When players found they can move the paint ball gun this showed another form of cruelty. Players fired on his reading lamp, wether or not this was intentionally done to make this man suffer, it shows that the players get even so board of shooting a person, that they would destroy his possessions in the process. It seemed like this was the American Mentality and we were completly lost of our humanity. A Marine shows up to see Wafaa, he proceeded to give him a knew lamp because he saw the destruction of the old one on line. A Marine who was trained for war, knew how to show compassion. Later on other people would show Wafaa kindness by logging on to the site and get people to join in clicking an arrow button and spam the page so that others wouldn't be given the chance to fire on Wafaa. This work was more like an experiment on America's humanity, to see if it had any compassion left. For a third party observer this was a huge wake up call on the troubles that are effecting america. It isn't the laziness of american political activity, but the complete ignorance of that political activity that can cause such tragically inhumane acts. This work also shows the complete opposite of what was just said, American people who do pay attention and those who do stand up and do something. It's a shame that more american's choose to stay ignorant than those who would do the right thing for all humanity not just for their own well being. Wafaa Bilal shows more works similar to this where he takes an online vote for who to be Water boarded, Wafaa or a Dog. Wafaa lost and was water boarded. His intent was never to actually water board the doge but that didn't seem to matter for the people at PETA. HE wanted to be water boarded to feel what it was like. His description was that it wasn't simulated drowning it was drowning. Never the less this piece was used to illustrate the people's view on the Iraqi people, and show proof the ignorant hatred for a fellow human being based on where he is from and what has been told about the Iraqi people.