Karim Ben Khelifa will partner with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Open Documentary Lab, Emile Bruneau with the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Fox Harrell with the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) to create a virtual reality installation that will allow users to engage with soldiers from across enemy lines. Ben Khelifa and his partners will start with the Israel–Palestinian conflict as a prototype, designing avatars for these soldiers based on Ben Khelifa’s images, audio, and video. The project partners hope that this immersive experience will challenge audiences’ assumptions around who fights in wars, why, and at what cost.
Ben Khelifa is an award-winning photojournalist who has freelanced regularly for Time Magazine, Vanity Fair, Le Monde, Stern, and GEO, among others. Ben Khelifa is widely known for his coverage of conflicts in the Middle East, especially the Iraq and Afghan wars. He has worked in more than 80 countries and territories and has had exhibitions on four continents. Ben Khelifa is a member of the advisory board of the Observatory for Photojournalism of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. He is part of the committee that nominates photographers for the World Press Photo Foundation's prestigious Joop Swart Masterclass. In 2012, Ben Khelifa was named the Carroll Binder Fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, where he has given talks and lectures in different schools of Harvard University. He is currently an artist-in-residence and fellow at the Open Documentary Lab at the MIT in Cambridge.