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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.
Beauty and aesthetics
Not just a meme, but a masterpiece – why the Mona Lisa earns its exalted place in art
How the Hindu myth of Annapurna, goddess of food, connects sustenance with spirituality
Computing and artificial intelligence
Who, exactly, authored this AI-generated spin on Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo?
Gender and identity
LGBTQ+ retirees celebrate their hard-earned self-acceptance at a belated prom night
Peering into the eerie world of plankton reveals a variety of vital creatures
Biography and memoir
Meet the Liverbirds! The bittersweet tale of Liverpool’s all-female answer to the Beatles
Take in the sounds of silence via this unique performance of John Cage’s infamous piece
‘My people!’ A Trinidadian’s love letter to his island, just before its 1962 independence
A unique theatre performance explores what touch means in an age of lockdown