The “collateral murder” video that documents the 2007 killing of journalists and civilians in Iraq by forces of the US military represents what is possibly the most consequential social media posting of all time, with direct implications ranging from the prosecution of Bradley (Chelsea) Manning and Julian Assange, through to accelerated attempts by the NSA and other global intelligence agencies to expand and enhance internet surveillance and control, while also criminalizing whistle-blowing.
Though the visual aspect of the video has received a tremendous amount of analysis, Crazy Horse One-Eight addresses the weaponization of radiophonic space in the perpetration of these war crimes, while also confronting the casual and dismissive language of the interactions themselves, as evidenced in the transcript of the radio exchanges between helicopters and command.
The public domain transcript for the incident is composed into four “cantos”, which are then voiced by Gregory Whitehead. The recordings are then subjected to a variety of techniques and rhythms/structures of entropic disintegration, interruption and polyphonic accumulation, all of which Whitehead has experimented with a smaller scale in previous works. Brief excerpts from the audio track of the video booth construct acoustic envelopes for the vocal migrations, and create interplays between military banter that seeks to kill and a solo voice that seeks to commemorate.
Listen to an excerpt of the work
Interview with Gregory Whitehead for ABC where he discusses his work and this commission