the enemy: karim ben khelifa's virtual reality exhibition examines the motives of war
 

the enemy: karim ben khelifa's virtual reality exhibition examines the motives of war

 

karim ben khelifa is a photojournalist who has worked across the globe, documenting a multitude of wars and conflicts. throughout his 15 year career, ben khelifa has constantly considered new ways to make his audience think more deeply about the impact of war. consequently, his new project, titled ‘the enemy’, uses virtual reality to break away from traditional media depictions. by allowing the individuals who carry out the violence to explain who they are, their motives and their dreams, the project challenges views held by all sides, and ultimately seeks to humanize the combatants.

the enemy karim ben khelifa
headset-wearing visitors walk between combatants of opposing sides of long-standing wars
still from ‘the enemy’ teaser video

 

 

the enemy is a virtual reality experience, a face-to-face concept where headset-wearing visitors walk between combatants of opposing sides of long-standing wars — such as israel and palestine, congo and el salvador. using VR headsets, participants encounter real, 360-degree imaging and recordings of combatants who were personally interviewed by ben khelifa for the project. in their own words, the subjects offer personal perspectives on war, their motivations, suffering, freedom, and the future. a mobile and tablet app also allows users to confront their own notions of ‘enemy’ and ’empathy’, and to deepen their knowledge of the long-standing conflicts of our time.

the enemy karim ben khelifa
participants will encounter imaging and recordings of combatants who were interviewed for the project
still from ‘the enemy’ teaser video

 

 

we provide no answers or explanations,’ says the team behind the immersive project. ‘instead, we aim to provide an experience and stimulate a discussion beyond easy rhetoric. the glib dismissal of the humanity of the enemy is not so much about the limits of empathy as it is about the limits of imagination. the ultimate goal of this project is to expand the moral imagination by deploying new storytelling tools.

the enemy karim ben khelifa
the combatants offer personal perspectives on war — their motivations, suffering, and freedom
still from ‘the enemy’ teaser video

 

 

originally conceived by karim ben khelifa as a photo exhibition, ‘the enemy’ evolved into a virtual reality installation during his artist residency at the massachusetts institute of technology. while there, ben khelifa worked alongside d. fox harrell, a MIT professor who explores how computing can be used to create subjective experiences, cultural understandings, and critical empowerment. the project makes its international debut in spring 2017, while the exhibition’s US premiere will take place at the MIT museum the following fall.

the enemy karim ben khelifa
demo testing of karim ben khelifa’s the enemy at the massachusetts institute of technology
image © lenny martinez / courtesy MIT CAST

the enemy karim ben khelifa
‘the enemy’ evolved into a virtual reality installation during ben khelifa’s artist residency at the MIT
image © lenny martinez / courtesy MIT CAST

the enemy karim ben khelifa
ben khelifa worked alongside d. fox harrell to develop the project
image © lenny martinez / courtesy MIT CAST

the enemy karim ben khelifa
a mobile and tablet app also allows users to confront their own notions of ‘enemy’ and ‘empathy’
image © lenny martinez / courtesy MIT CAST

the enemy karim ben khelifa
the project makes its international debut in spring 2017
image © lenny martinez / courtesy MIT CAST

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