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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.
Inside the unique London community built by residents to defy housing discrimination
Film and visual culture
With human help, AIs are generating a new aesthetics. The results are trippy
From manners to mud – two women recall coming of age in Victorian London
Gender and identity
The joys and complications of raising a baby without gender in a binary world
Sports and games
Bodies, bikes and groovy music propel this stylish classic film from 1965
Can art in a swanky restaurant ever be transcendent? On Rothko’s Seagram Murals
Like pop music, humpback whale songs spread, mutate, and fall out of fashion
The ancient world
Why did the Romans create a massive, entirely impractical map of their empire?
Human rights and justice
The staggering cruelty of Ireland’s Church-run ‘mother and baby homes’