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For as long as there have been wars, there have been soldiers refusing to fight in them. The experimental short How to Disappear examines the history of military desertion via the online war video game Battlefield V (2018), drawing wry and provocative contrasts between digital and real-life combat. Created by the Austrian art collective Total Refusal, this thoughtful film also asks: what does it mean that you can’t desert within this computer-generated world? Unable to abandon the battlefield or surrender within Battlefield V, Total Refusal invents new and unusual forms of pacifistic disobedience for their user-controlled soldiers. Their imaginative tactics walk a thin line between trolling other players and challenging the frameworks and mores of this peculiar space. By putting aside the intended gameplay, the group explores muddy moral questions of play, patriotism and war in a society where lines between digital and real environments grow more blurred by the day. For more from Total Refusal’s Leonhard Müllner and Robin Klengel, watch Operation Jane Walk.
How would a piano sound on Mars? Embark on an interplanetary sonic journey
Emergency first responders meet chaos with dissonant calm in this gripping short
The ancient world
Not a lost kingdom but a parable – how to read Athens in Plato’s story of Atlantis
Meaning and the good life
Albert Camus built a philosophy of humanity on a foundation of absurdity
When two punk bands came to a psychiatric hospital, beautiful chaos ensued
Design and fashion
Gear up for a stylish celebration of vintage motorcycle design
The ancient world
A balanced account of Nero’s life reveals the ‘editing and destruction’ of history-making
An ode to the humble rotifer – one of nature’s simplest and strangest creatures
Film and visual culture
Shoddy filmmaking meets the miracle of life in a police training film turned cult classic