Erin Gee & Alex M. Lee, Project H.E.A.R.T. (Holographic Empathy Attack Robotics Team), 2017
A twist on popular “militainment” shooter video games, Project H.E.A.R.T. invites the viewer to place their fingers on a custom biodata gathering device, and then summon their enthusiasm to engage holographic popstar Yowane Haku in “combat therapy.” The biosensing device gathers data from the VR user relative to blood flow and skin conductance in order to facilitate emotional interactivity: a user’s enthusiasm (spikes in signal amplitude in skin conductance, higher than average heartrate, and shifts in amplitude of the pulse signal) stimulates the holographic pop star to sing in the virtual warzone, thus inspiring military fighters to continue the war. At the end of the experience the user is confronted with their score: how many of their soldiers were traumatized vs how many were enemies killed. There is no further information given whether one has won or lost the game. In-game dialogue between the soldiers wavers between self-righteous soldier banter and self-help mantras. As soldiers battle not only against a group of enemies, but also against their own lack of confidence in times of global economic instability, the user is challenged to summon their positivity to activate Haku’s singing voice and boost morale. The landscape of Project H.E.A.R.T. was built from geopolitically resonant sites found on Google Maps, creating a dreamlike background for the warzone that brings the user's emotional body to a virtual space that combines speculative drone warfare, photogrammetric landscapes, automation, pop music, video games, anxiety and trauma.