Another example: A Proposal for a Memorial looks like a basic 3D model of a grid of vertical blocks and their reflections. It's unclear that Zehngebot means it to represent a computer data center storing lives lost in video game battles. The design is inspired by the field of stone blocks in the Berlin Holocaust memorial. And the image is printed by a technique Zehngebot developed in which he screenprints the images with a clear rice paste, then singes the prints with a burner. The paper and paste burn at different rates, producing a brown image.

The Memorial image is still just okay even when you know all this, but knowing it makes it much more meaningful, because the subjects Zehngebot explores are riveting. Can increasingly realistic games and simulations help us wage war more efficiently, with less bloodshed? Or do they desensitize us to war? Does our military technology distance us from the fighting, making it easier for us to ignore the costs — physical, emotional, financial — of going to war? What does it mean as our virtual existences — from Facebook to World of Warcraft — become ever more central to our lives?

Read Greg Cook's blog at  gregcookland.com/journal.

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