The Art of Urban Warfare
by Jeroen Jongeleen
(2002 – 2005, 2012)
The project began with a simple text that outlined rules for a game in which players would create their own pieces, using a standard set of tools and an imposed color scheme to become the author’s of a game that transformed urban environments into its playing field. Inspired by ludo-centric artistic interventions and the real life social networking of Graffiti and other street art movements, the project was launched in 2002. As many artists created work, which was reactive to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Jongeleen’s project took a more playful approach to encouraging civil action.
After publishing the original project text, one by one more than 500 people in 40 cities began to play AOUW on the streets where they live. Comically, this also led to the artist’s integration under suspicion of terrorism and eventual deletion of the project website and communications. More interestingly, with images included from various real and fictive wars, the game creates a dialogue of imagery that comments on human history in a way populist slogans and failed pleas for world peace are not able to. The aesthetics of war do not change, but the conversation does, in this shift from seriousness to play.