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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.
Film and visual culture
A Palme d’Or-winning animation toys with the way our eyes perceive light
How a self-taught autistic artist mines creativity from life’s endless variations
Nature and landscape
An afternoon with hobbyist diamond miners in Arkansas is a thing of rare beauty
Witness the majesty of moths taking flight at 6,000 frames per second
Jocelyn Bell discovered pulsars. The Nobel Prize went to her supervisor
Animals and humans
A bluesy ballad tells the story of Old Bet, the first circus elephant in the US
In this 1975 lecture, the maglev train’s inventor deconstructs his ingenious design
Meaning and the good life
To know or not to know? Lillian weighs the costs of a life-changing genetic test
Information and communication
There are many ways to make a flat map of the world – each of them a unique distortion