This is How We Win Wars (2min excerpt), HD video with sound, 6 minutes, looped, 2018
This is How We Win Wars
The work is formed around an on-going collection of videos showing soldiers dancing. These are originally sourced from YouTube and are often uploaded by the soldiers themselves. The soundtrack for the video is Steve Reich’s Piano Phase, a rhythmic piece for two pianos where a repeated refrain of successive notes shift and realign (or ‘phase’) over time.
Reich’s music, with its simple and clear structure complicated by small shifts and alterations acts as a mirror to the soldiers’ intense expressions of emotion and release taking place between the strict rhythms of military life. Moreover, the complexity and intricacy that emerges in both the dancing and music are testaments to the insistent slippages that occur in any attempt to control and organise emotion and feeling, especially in the context of extreme emotional and physical stress.
The work also reflects on the relationship between ritual, war and trauma. Exploring how military systems are negotiated on tacit levels of affect, gesture and emotion and explicit levels of rituals and systems. It considers the various ways in which trauma is coped with, organised and expressed on both intimate and public levels, and it examines the complex, and often problematic relationship between these modes of grieving and remembering.