biome collective: killbox

Artist: Biome Collective 

Artwork: Killbox 

Killbox is a game experience which simulates drone warfare. Each audience member plays the piece at the same time as someone else. You both experience the same events, but one person plays first as drone operator, then as drone target, and the other player plays these perspectives the other way around. The piece is often presented in installation, where you and the other player are stood only a metre apart. 

I was struck by the ways the work ‘shrinks the distance’. 

The game shrinks the distance between act and impact. As you play both perspectives, you are given the opportunity to immediately understand the consequences of your actions, or you play in full knowledge of what impact your actions will have. The work also very practically shrinks the distance between drone and target. When the game swaps perspectives, you are hyper aware of who you are targeting, or who is targeting you, but instead of that individual being far away (as it often is in drone warfare), they are directly in front of you. 

Importantly, a key physical act in the game – pressing ‘go’ on the drone – is hardly different to the act as it plays out in real life. Drone operators are often in another country, guiding a drone through a computer screen. Killbox both simulates and recontextualizes drone warfare, offering it’s player a vital, but terrifying perspective on this brutal act. 

Response: Exercise 

What relationship does your viewer/player/audience normally have to the material at hand? 

Is it personal and close? Or distant and disconnected? 

Swap this – make the distant actions close and personal, the close actions distant and disconnected. 

Reflect on what this shows you.

Can you give your audience a point of view experience they wouldn’t have normally? Can you offer them a new perspective?

Find two distinct perspectives, or viewpoints on your idea or story. Create something from each perspective.  

Play them back or side by side. 

How do they speak to each other? What does one illuminate in the other?  

Think about the physical context this story/idea normally exists in. 

What other physical contexts are connected? for example, the environment where a political decision is made, is connected to the environment where it is felt. 

Can you bring these two contexts/environments together? 

What happens when they can speak to each other?