THE VIRTUAL DRILL SERGEANT
KATIE GRACE MCGOWAN & JON WINET
CARPA (Craft Advanced Research Projects Agency) organized a camp for which artists were invited to pursue projects that investigate the military-industrial complex. Camp CARPA was held on a compound in the Mojave Desert town of Joshua Tree, California.
At Camp CARPA, Jon Winet (Cpl.) and Katie Grace McGowan (Pvt.) debuted the alpha version of the “Virtual Drill Sergeant”—a mobile web application designed to introduce a new paradigm for programming the soldier athlete. Unlike the 20th century model of boot camp, the app attempts to challenge each recruit to a personalized program that pushes their physical and emotional comfort zones. Rather than the physical and psychic trauma associated with boot camp, our goal was to design an app that would play with the absurd notion of a humanizing form of military training. A soldier’s training regimen was turned upside down as a demonstration of a demilitarized-military training.
The VDS was affixed to Pvt. McGowan, who demonstrated the app by performing the prompts designed by Winet. Rather than be subjected to patriotic dogma, Pvt. McGowan was instructed to read novels and share her reflections, go on walks, eat candy, enjoy tea with a friend, etc.
The research conducted via this durational performance led us to better understand the constraints of the project and will inform forthcoming versions of the application.