Thriving in a military environment requires a value system that is very different from that of the civilian world. It requires that you give up a part of yourself. The process of reclaiming the lost pieces when reintegrating after service is one of profound confusion, anger, and grief. How can you focus if your mind constantly runs through the procedure for correcting a malfunction in an M16 rifle? How do you respond to folks who gush about how fashionable military uniforms are? How do you connect with those around you when you’re overcome with guilt at leaving friends behind, friends that continue to spend every day in harm’s way? How do you cope with the realization that these questions have no clean, simple answers? Military Issue is an installation that exists as an artifact of my own exploration of these and many other questions. It seeks to capture the fragmented nature of this unpacking process. It demands a long attention span and a willingness to confront discomfort and confusion, just as the reintegration journey does. It begs users to consider that service doesn’t end when a person takes off the uniform for the last time.
Once I had decided to use a collection of objects, photocells, and audio, my first task was to make the technology work with a single object and audio track. I started with the boot, as it had been an object I had been working with through several past iterations of the project, and felt I had strong sense of what it meant to me. I’ll be honest, it didn’t take long and wasn’t difficult to get it working. This isn’t terribly surprising, since the technology was no more complicated than one of the first labs we did this semester, the analog input lab. When the reading from the sensor exceeded a certain amount (when the flashlight was shining on it), the audio played. Otherwise, it paused. I tested this with several people, and received a positive response: Continue reading