The Cluster Project presents the controversial work THE CHILDREN EXPERIMENT, a short documentary investigation in which replicas of cluster bomblets are placed in Virginia playgrounds as surveillance cameras secretly record the reaction of local children. Around the world, children are tragically attracted to these kinds of small, unexploded bombs — do American children possess the same impulse?
Employing a mix of interventionist art, ethnography, and reportage, The Children Experiment explores the relationship between cluster bombs, children, and western complicity with immoral weaponry. While the U.S. traditionally produces and sells the bulk of the world’s cluster munitions—weapons that result in alarmingly high casualty rates for children and other civilians — few Americans know or care. Would this be the case if it were American children at risk?
Cluster Bombs as Killer of Civilians
Handicap International has estimated that roughly 98% of those killed by cluster munitions have been civilians, more than a quarter of them children. Cluster weapons consist of hundreds, and even thousands, of submunitions released from a missile, bomb, or shell that rain down at random over a wide area. This deadly chaos is just the beginning, as many of the submunitions fail to explode, landing as duds in fields, trees, and buildings, and effectively becoming as treacherous as landmines. Children are particularly vulnerable to these weapons, and frequently approach the lethal duds, mistaking them for toys.
The United States has been the world’s major producer, stockpiler, and user of cluster munitions. While these weapons have been unleashed in more than 37 nations, they’ve never been used in the U.S. , and Americans know little about them and their history of terrorizing civilian populations. In the wake of such apathy, the U.S. joins nations like China, Russia, Iran, and Israel in opposing the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international treaty banning cluster munitions that England, France, Japan, and more than 100 other nations have already signed.
What is The Cluster Project?
The Children Experiment is a component of THE CLUSTER PROJECT, an online collaborative artwork that surveys the universe of cluster bombs, drones, nukes, and the casual acceptance of civilian casualties around the world. Go here for a description of The Cluster Project and a glimpse at its various works.