SIMULATION IN TRAINING

2007

Supported by a research and creation grant from the Intra Arts section of the Canada Council for the Arts and a residency at the Banff Center, Cassils commenced a decade long investigation into the theater of war present in the American mass media. Through an experimental mixing of the language of documentary and performance, Simulation In Training investigates the overlap between the military industrial complex and the Hollywood film industry.

Several avenues of research were conducted inluding interviews with stunt professionals, Cassils’s attendance at the United Stuntman’s Association’s International Stunt School in Seattle, WA, and Cassils’s gaining access to Fort Irwin, a military base in California where stunt and FX teams pair up with the military to simulate the conditions of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This film poses the following questions: How does Hollywood’s construction of war differ from the representations we see in the media? How do the participants of the production of these images experience trauma to their own bodies?

Heather Cassils Fire

Images: Simulation In Training, Film Poster, Digital Collage, 2007; Simulation In Training, Multiple film stills, 2007; Simulation In Training, Multiple film stills, 2007; Simulation In Training (Full Body Burn), Photo from training at United Stunt Mans Association International Stunt School, 2007; Simulation In Training (High Fall), Photo from training at United Stunt Mans Association International Stunt School, 2007; Simulation In Training (Ratchet Pull), Photo from training at United Stunt Mans Association International Stunt School, 2007.

Crash and Burn is shot on location at the International Stunt School in Seattle, WA. This two channel video installation features students performing a series of treacherous fire stunts and high falls. These stunt exercises pair terrible acting with very real physical danger. This video diptych investigates the surface of the theatre of violence present in Hollywood entertainment. Cassils furthers this inquiry by constructing alternate soundscapes which call into question the context and source of the images. This unveiling technique employs audio which at first seems urgent and traumatic but transforms into laughable exercises staged specifically to simulate such emotions for the purposes of entertainment.