The Critical Art Ensemble

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Matt Kidder


The Critical Art Ensemble

            The Critical Art Ensemble or CAE is the collective group of five tactical media practitioners of various specializations including computer graphics and web design, film/video, photography, text art, book art, and performance. It was formed in 1987 with the focus of bringing together many different aspects through the crossroads of art, critical theory, politics and technology. This group has created installations and exhibits all over, from the streets today’s cities, to museums in NYC, D.C, London, Germany, Paris and Chicago, and even spanning across the internet.  One of the works that CAE was involved with that really caught my attention was a video installation from 2008 titled “Immolation”. This 5 minute long video loop addresses the viewer to the use of incendiary weapon on innocent civilians after the Geneva Convention and the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons, were made in October 1980. The video documents some major war crimes that the U.S. has committed involving these weapons of incendiary nature on a macro level by use of birds eye and landscape views, then contrasts with the use of micro views to show the effects and damage done to the human body. In order to accomplish this project, the CAE grew human tissue at a research laboratory at the University of Western Australia, and by using expensive microscopic equipment they were able to view it. The CAE also used film footage of present and past wars that have used immolation against civilian targets as a strategic choice for the sole purpose of controlling and terrorizing a population. The goal of this Installation was to provide a different way of imaging, viewing, and interpreting the human costs of these war crimes, in contrast to the overload of media imagery that we as a society have become so desensitized and numb to.

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