Born out of his experiences as a photojournalist in Palestine and Israel, Karim Ben Khelifa’s The Enemy, a video installation that uses augmented reality and virtual reality, attempts to create a deeper understanding and empathy of the situation on the Gaza strip.
“My friends in Israel, when they know I’m heading to Gaza, cannot help themselves but to wish me luck and stay safe. They believe a lot of people in Gaza are irrational. Also when I’m spending weeks working in Gaza and returning to Israel, my Palestinian friends are telling me exactly the same: just be careful there!” says Khelifa, a Belgian-Tunisian photojournalist in the video above.
The video installation is currently being showcased at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, where viewers will be placed in the centre of the action, with combatants from Israel and Palestine on either side.
Because of extensive facial scanning technology, the figures come to life and talk to the viewer about violence and peace. Khelifa's target audience is not the casual viewer but people actually involved in the conflict. It is based on his years of experience as a photojournalist and seeing young people grow up to be fighters on either side, continuing to voice the same opinions as their ancestors.
Apart from mixing journalism and technology, there is an additional scientific component to the experiment. Khelifa uses neurological monitors to figure out exactly what the viewers are going through. He sees this as one of the futures of long-form journalism.