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Title: Audiovisual battlefields : the remediation of cinema and media imagery and technologies in military urban conflict simulations
Author: Schupp, Janina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 6875
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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Since the end of the Cold War, the combined influence of audiovisual media, modern urban conflicts and asymmetric enemies has generated a new kind of military live training simulation to prepare soldiers for future combats. These novel hybrid exercise battlefields are situated in artificially constructed urban spaces and integrate real physical training with techniques and imagery inspired by the fields of cinema and media. This thesis critically examines this convergence of entertainment practices and images in military training and the resulting, potentially negative, impacts on the execution of warfare and perception of urban spaces and populations. The thesis begins by tracing the evolution of terrain representations in wargames – from black and white squares, painted landscape elements and actual maps, to virtual environments, miniature houses and real-scale architectures. The historical relationship between the film industry and military training is analysed in order to explore the emergence of cinematic components in simulated combat training landscapes that brought the flat world of wargames to its real third dimension. The mock urban training space is then investigated as a “meta-cinematic city” – a city created through cinematic tools, including set and sound design, which portrays a cinematic city (a city as represented through a filmic medium). This analysis focuses on how cinematic elements, such as creative geographies and architectural sequences, are created in order to train for the subversion of traditional conceptions of urban spaces and architectural elements in urban combats. Furthermore, the examination reveals how the sensory qualities of moving image technologies are employed to generate a multi-sensory “hyperrealism” and “hyperimmersion” to train physical and emotional reactions and engrain military responses to combat stimuli. The analysis furthermore excavates both the conscious and unconscious remediation of media imagery and practices in the creation of the artificial “human terrain”. The mise-en-scène of the enemy population is investigated in order to uncover how the simulation of “foreign” and “alien” identities is increasingly based on the media coverage of these population groups. The analysis critically considers how the resulting role-play reproduces self-perpetuating stereotypes that pre-shape the soldiers’ perception of populations. Lastly, the thesis explores how artificial media cycles are generated as part of the combat training to prepare soldiers’ self-representation and communication skills under unpredictable, straining circumstances and to effectively communicate the army’s message to the world. This section especially focuses on the growing military “weaponisation” of the media, which has now begun to market the military training itself as an entertainment attraction to worldwide audiences – thus closing the circle between entertainment and military practices and subsuming the population in the war preparation. With entertainment and marketing imagery, technologies and concepts now at the core of military preparation, stereotypes of population groups and urban spaces and a “de-realization”, “gamification” and “sanitisation” of warfare are increasingly carried over into real conflicts, thus affecting critical decisions as a result of entertainment-based conditioning. Furthermore, to ensure public support, the general population is turned into an indispensable part of military training through participatory video games, social media and training centre visits and consequently becomes increasingly complicit in the merging of entertainment and military practices and subject to the same remediated preconceptions.
Supervisor: Penz, François Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Film Studies ; Architecture ; War Studies