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The Incredible Audacity Behind Art Of Future Warfare.org

February 5, 2015
Future Warfare Spiros Karkavelas

Via Spiros Karkavelas

It’s where science fiction and storytelling become tools to envision the future of US hegemony.

But wait a minute, because the artoffuturewarfare.org isn’t a collaboration between flash fiction hacks and DeviantArt users who conjure battle mechs right out of a Neill Blomkamp movie.

Artoffuturewarfare.org is a completely unexpected online venture from a leading geopolitical think tank, the Atlantic Council, and a few allies.

These include another think tank, The Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, and the official “media partner” War on the Rocks, a website providing commentary on the modern American way of war.

Another entity, the Lund fellowship, is a grant program from Sweden’s Lund University.

Together, they’ve turned the think tank game on its head. Artoffuturewarfare.org was officially launched in late 2014. This was announced by the Atlantic Council on November 19 last year.

It’s led by August Cole, an ex-journalist and fiction author.

From the Atlantic Council’s press release:

The project will curate artistic renderings of future warfare through crowd-sourced “war-art challenges,” which will be reviewed by a panel of Atlantic Council experts and guest judges. The best works will be published in a collection that will aid the national security community in thinking about and planning for emerging threats.

The whole point of the project, according to the site’s Mission Statement, is:

The project’s core mission is to cultivate a community of interest in works and ideas arising from the intersection of creativity and expectations about how emerging antagonists, disruptive technologies, and novel warfighting concepts may animate tomorrow’s conflicts.

So artoffuturewarfare.org influences by feeding the imagination.

The website itself is impressive, with a layout suited for desktop and mobile browsers. Visitors can even stay up to date by entering their email address on the newsletter field at the bottom of the home page.

It Appeals To The Video Game Generation

It’s the site’s header that’s most eye-grabbing. For the whole of last month, conceptual artist Spiros Karkavelas enjoyed the limelight with his vivid renditions of mecha-nized warfare involving bipedal drones and US special forces in an imagined conflict over Taiwan.

Karkavelas is a talented artist with a knack for the detailed and grandiose. His work is reminiscent of Syd Mead and Ridley Scott. He’s also got an eye for the minutiae of firearms and other weapon systems.

Artoffuturewarfare.org isn’t a news source, however. It’s where short fiction and art work related to probable future wars are published. There is a strong US-centric perspective and even the choice of crises follows a familiar rogue’s gallery. Think Russia, Iran, China, other dangerous countries, cyberwarfare, and global terrorism.

It’s a novel way of going about the wonk business, where commentary and exhaustive research is supposed to inform policy.

Artoffuturewarfare.org’s approach is reminiscent of the techno thriller genre that assaulted US bestseller lists in the 1980s and 1990s. With Tom Clancy leading the charge, techno thriller writers made careers imagining how the US kicks ass in fictitious wars.

So for artoffuturewarfare.org, contemplating world crises becomes more Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and less old farts sharing their thoughts on [insert conflict here].

The artoffuturewarfare.org already published a lot of material and a new contest is no doubt underway where anyone can submit their short stories and faux-journalistic pieces. Artists are also encouraged to send their best spin on US military affairs.

The first “Great War” writing contest had a winner who imagined a post-internet dark age after Vladimir Putin is assassinated by a hacked pacemaker.

 

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