Artist Statement: Elite Soldiers
1. w00t (interjection)
expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word “yay.”
“This year’s winning word first became popular in competitive online gaming forums as part of what is known as l33t (“leet,” or “elite”) speak—an esoteric computer hacker language in which numbers and symbols are put together to look like letters. Although the double “o” in the word is usually represented by double zeroes, the exclamation is also known to be an acronym for “we owned the other team”—again stemming from the gaming community.”
– Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2007
Growing up in a family where all males historically served in the military, I heard plenty of stories of Vietnam and World War II told over and over again. Now I have family members telling me stories from their service in Iraq. I realize this is a war I could be fighting, but physically not being able to serve in the armed forces led me down another path in life: computers, art, the internet, and video games. As a result, my work is reactionary to current events in politics and pop geek culture in the United States. The wars in the Middle East and the responses of the media and people to it intrigue me. There are groups of people opposing it, for it, and in various degrees of activeness of their opinions.
As a teenager waging “war” online as a hacker and as an avid war video game player introduced me to a whole world of people that loved to shoot and blow each other up and generally ignoring the fact that everything that was going on in the game is currently happening somewhere in the world. In fact, the US Military recently designed its own first person shooter computer game as a recruiting tool. This blurring of the boundaries between entertainment and war is the subject of these pieces.
In this series I appropriate images of soldiers at war from the online kids coloring book on the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Government website and old Department of Defense training manuals. I combine the slick cartoon-like images of missiles and soldiers along with the somewhat cryptic gamer language “733tsp34k” (elite speak) to push the images of war further into the realm of trivial play to parody the gamers view of war as a fun and harmless pastime.
In a world where the online war cry “w00t!” is declared as the number one word of the year for 2007 by Merriam-Webster, I feel this body of work represents a sardonic view of an already sardonic culture.