To carry out this durational "performance," Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal lived in self-imposed confinement in a prison cell-sized area of Chicago's Flatfile Gallery for 30 days. Broadcast via live webcam, the exhibition granted viewers 24-hour virtual access to Bilal's confinement space. Visitors to the project's website could not only watch and communicate with the artist in a chat room; they were also afforded the ability to shoot at him using a remote-controlled paintball gun—transforming the virtual experience into a physical one, albeit for Bilal alone. Although a prominent objective of the exhibition was to scrutinize the gamification of violence, the artist deliberately chose to distinguish the interactive experience from that of violent video games in one critical way: those who decided to shoot at him were unable—by design—to hear the shot or its impact. The absence of sound in the installation served to emulate remote, technological warfare, underscoring the fact that state actors currently responsible for launching military attacks and waging wars are often doing so from afar.
A critical commentary on modern technological warfare and its far-reaching implications, Domestic Tension also sought to provide just the slightest glimpse into life in a conflict zone. The exhibition aimed to raise awareness of the lived experience of Iraqi people in particular— characterized by arrested movement, constant fear of bombardment, and, as Bilal describes, both the violent and the virtual war they face on a daily basis.