Hyper War art
Si les Balkans n'existaient pas, il faudrait les inventer*
The necessity of the creation and the sustainability of this policy of these permanent national crises, owes its existence to a failure. If the Balkans were in historical perspective, the peak of the epic of the Ottoman Empire, then they were respectively the essence of European failure; of the permanent and obvious incompetence (inspired by Hegel) of the plans of central Europe to impose and manipulate a mosaic of states over a pre-existing mosaic of nations. This procedure could be comic, if it wasn’t at the same time tragic. Because it also simultaneously concealing and discarding device. Balkanization was exactly the procedure of transferring this loss and establishing the stigma elsewhere and on others, from whom from now onward assume the role of the villain in Europe’s court. And in a way this role-along with the mythology following it- is accepted form the countries of South-Eastern Europe who hereinafter believed that they had an obligation, through a strange procedure of self-stigmatization, to reproduce it. The Balkans is a device deriving directly from the imaginary sphere. So, their image was invented and produced far from the basis of rational criteria of the era of the Enlightment, which central Europe treasures jealously for herself, in order to be able self-criticize, but at the same time create myths that accompany the rumors and the reputations that emerge every time there is a top priority necessity to create ghosts. The kind of ghosts necessary to keep the curious away from where they shouldn’t be and of the kind that conceal un-punished crimes, in a similar manner history was illustrated and human simulations are designed in the video games world, also specialized products of rationalized, post-industrial societies based on state of the high technology.
The initial material used to create the identity of the Balkans is first of all historistic, a product of scholars and academic workshops. Naturally, as in the case of the East and Orientalism, literature holds an important role for herself. The West is also in need of a buffer between her and the East. From the times of sovereignty, when the empires were fighting for territorial control, alternating their action moves (turn based action), underlining borders and creating nationalisms (while territorial morphology and distances were important factors in the process of the game) until the star wars of today, the Balkan nations seem like eager digital avatars, doomed to re-birth in an arena that some times reminds us of the arena of Unreal and other times of textures of Medieval War. In no other area, did nations as a whole change borders, languages and religions so many times. A platform that records this psycho-geography can be easily found in one of the categories of video games, known as Epic Strategy Games. In this category, the armies of players fight in real time, although there is actually an important stage in the game consumed in subjective time in order to organize, prepare and re-establish the internal situation of each empire. The new conditions of production of subjectivity (with whatever meaning the term still has today). For the players, the existence of dark and unknown territories in neighboring lands are necessary elements to define borders and in general the atmosphere of fear and threat suitable in war. Especially, as far as curfew and counterfeiting information is concerned. The possibilities of representation and symbolism in games –as in the Balkans- using as footage completely different cultures and religions, in other words unfamiliar manners of perception and administration, combined with battles fought to death, is the element that gives the dimension of a national epic to the various Balkan wars and also the establishment of the name epic strategy in the respective video game category.
The peninsula of the Balkans is overwhelmed by historical facts and traditions, while in it’s the corresponding natural environment, it offers an enormous in amount and variety material for constructing heroes, ghosts and jesters. It is almost impossible to avoid noticing that when Dracula had to acquire a domicile, literature situated him in the Balkans. Based on a similar notion, the anthropological type of the “Balkan” was created. His dark ‘’ethography’’ is constructed, according on what each local propaganda could offer and the inexorable necessities created by the infinite conflicts, always with imaginary material, of the same nature of that used during the same period and under the scope of the introduction to the “sinful and luscious” East, that the European bourgeois used covering their walls. Thus, a few years later, the dark theatre scene of Europe of World War I, identifies with its even darker side necessary for playing the role of the scapegoat. The emphasis put in narration, the script and the construction of roles, are characteristics of another category of video games, of Role Player Games, and to be more exact in the sub-category of Dungeons and Dragons. The quality of representation (graphics) in these games is not usually of a high standard but this is not particularly necessary anyway. The environment is down graded in comparison with the importance of the pre-constructed roles. What are important are the script and its complexity. Especially in the case of the “Balkan” a script that will promote his “character”, i.e. the famous and favorite media type of the envious, full of primitiveness, insecurity and violence. And of course the necessary highlights of medieval varnish.
It is only when they go abroad for their education, don black coats and a thin veneer of progress, that they invite criticism. They are not ripe for the blessings of democracy (such as they are) and much painful experience will be necessary to prepare them. I do not say they cannot undergo the preparation, but I do not wish to see them in the process. I prefer to remember them, as I have known them, admirable survivors of the age of chivalry**.
The fall of the wall of Berlin and the ordeal of Yugoslavia in the 90s, adds more levels in the imaginary production of history. The innovations in the propaganda production techniques of image are very well known. A new element in the tradition of European failures is the “accident” of high- tech, that transfers the war to a virtual roof***, with the essence of the ground still active only during the pre-election debates and in general in the aims of the local barons. Games that suit this period are those of a first perspective i.e. shoot’em up games with organized tasks and with the objective of a quick adrenalin rush accompanied by a respective spectacle. From efforts of normalization with which the administration tried to encompass conflicts in modernist times, now we reach the same objectives of incorporation, but this time through the control of difference. A hybrid product of a crossbreeding between a shooting game and a flight simulation take place in a live transmission every day- but not in real time though- over the Aegean Sea. The semiotics of this high tech-and rather dangerous game-can express the procedures that underestimate geography to a simple means of expressing the way that the sovereign of global geometry is establishing.
Translation : Widian Al Hilaly
**Herbert Vivian- The Serbian Tragedy
***Paul Virilio-La bombe Informatique