. art —

Year created:

2005

Bomb Iraq

In 2005, artist Cory Arcangel purchased a used Macintosh TV at a Salvation Army in Buffalo, New York. A commercial flop in the early 90s, the Macintosh TV was a poorly designed hybrid between a Macintosh computer and a TV set, only selling about 10,000 units between October 1993 and February 1994.

Amidst an array of personal files preserved on the Macintosh TV, Arcangel found a home-made game called Bomb Iraq, which was created with the multimedia authoring and programming software HyperCard. Presumably designed by one of the computer’s former owners, who seemed to have been a teenage boy, it offered a simplistic game-like experience, allowing users to flip through a virtual deck of cards depicting a hand-drawn missile hitting a clipart outline of Iraq.

Arcangel first exhibited the found Macintosh TV as a readymade piece titled Bomb Iraq for the 2005 show "Breaking and Entering: Art and the Video Game" at PaceWildenstein in New York City. While the Macintosh TV hardware died shortly after the opening, its contents were saved onto a CD-ROM.

In 2014, Rhizome’s digital conservator Dragan Espenschied used server-side emulation (bwFLA: Emulation as a Service) as a means to offer access to Bomb Iraq, including the full contents of the Macintosh TV's hard disk, with the users' personal information removed. According to Espenschied the newly restored “context” of Bomb Iraq’s original operating environment, composed by “the arrangement of icons, the software installed, the modified system font, and the desktop background,” brings forth “the narrative power of system ambience.” A found object of the digital age, Bomb Iraq treats an obsolete hard drive as a new form of personal history.