what if im the bad guy

“what if im the bad guy” is an experimental augmented reality documentary based on the stories of three US soldiers in Afghanistan and three unarmed civilians they shot and killed in early 2010. The title comes from a tattoo on the back of a whistleblower soldier, exposed in photographs documenting a beating he received for threatening to report an incident to superiors.

The pieces uses Palimpsest, an open-source framework for AR narratives, and iPad 2 hardware to embed visitors into an open-air museum and memorial filled with slowly rotating narrative fragments. The visitor can touch these fragments to discover pieces of the story, and can realign them into different configurations, sorting them chronologically or by thematic connections, implicitly invited to find a point of view from which the story makes sense. Scattered through the air above the field are fractured portraits of the accused soldiers, which become whole only when the visitor finds the right perspective from which they appear to re-align, and memorials to the dead civilians, stylized externally as frozen, chaotic explosions but transforming into tranquil spaces of silence when stepped inside.

“bad guy” won the jury award for Best in Show at the 2011 UC Santa Cruz Digital Arts & New Media MFA exhibition.

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