By Annick RIVOIRE
Friday, January 30, 2004
Vietnam: the war
eyes in the game

The former will try to find the dozen or so games used to create the movie: Deer Hunter, for the scene of entering the cold landscape, Nam, Platoon, Vietcong, Vietnam 2: special assignment and others for the fighting or flying scenes. Film goers will be surprised by the close proximity of the setting with cult pictures: the swaying whores, who are clicking their heels in 3D, are the exact reproduction of Full Metal Jacket ("These boots are made for walking"), the helicopter that flies above the runway, viewed from the ground below, with its throbbing blades, recalls the arrival of the troops in the TV series Mash. Eddo Stern mixes two techniques: the appropriation of cinematic scenes through video games and the recording of game sessions, headphones on the ears, to immerse oneself in the musical atmosphere of the Vietnam years with Midi extracts, like an electriconic piano from California Dreaming, Knocking on Heaven's Door, etc…

Recyclage : The viewer, passively installed in the theater seat, discovers the narrative abstraction, the de-realisation, the loss of reference… feeling the "sickening nostalgia" that Eddo Stern says he feels about Vietnam Romance, designed to illustrate "the relationships that the United States has with its history and the erosion of memory via meditation, first of cinema and of pop, and then of new media like video games". Those that are interested in contemporary art will appreciate the recycling of war- game and war film clich╚s, a cleansing from the inside out that attempt to exhaust a historical trauma via images. One should not forget to keep in mind the "american media machine which produces most war games worldwide", adds Eddo, and these strange "connexions between ideology, history and american entertainment forms".

Did the Vietnam war really exist? Paradoxically, Eddo Stern's film Vietnam Romance, a composition of video game scenes and hyper referenced musical tracks (hits of the 60's listened to by pacifists or american soldiers lost in the jungle), pushes one into asking this type of absurd question. Due to the extensive representations of the war in films, video games and the collective imagination, it is as if this conflict came out of a historical reality in order to become a myth: a war fantasy, perfectly illustrated by war-game images.

Cadrage : Born in Israel, Eddo Stern has lived in Los Angeles, United States for about 10 years. Plunged into digital culture, he confesses being a hard-core gamer. " I am an artist and it happens to be so that I am obsessed with video games ". His works, films or " mechanical " sculptures sustain a slight displacement of point of view, subtle and chilling, as if the viewer, when deprived from the joystick, open the eyes to the gruesomeness, cruelty and perversity of various games. A soldier selected as the "first person shooter" zooms in close and fiercely goes at a human skull, imlying that all shots in all video games are ultra-violent. Eddo Stern writes his films based on games, around games and in the game itself, while addressing gamers, as well as film buffs, or the contemporary art public.