Russian in-game photography community

Konstantin Remizov has kindly offered a glimpse into the Russian community of in-game photographers that he is part of, existing in its current form since 2016: https://vk.com/ingameph

[Notable projects:]

– a collective take on using the famous “Hall of mirrors” glitch for aesthetic purposes: https://vk.com/wall-122046911_1795

– a recontextualization of Daido Moriyama’s work and methods in the gamespace of Driv3r: https://vk.com/wall-122046911_1508

– an essay on parrallels between in-game photography and the works of Thomas Ruff and Jeff Wall (yup, on russian): https://vk.com/wall-122046911_1548

From time to time we also post notable works from outside the community and translate important texts (or even write our own, as evidenced above). But mostly, of course, the content of the group is constituted by the good old-fashioned thermite art, to borrow Manny Farber’s term – a constant flow of surreal experiences and deliberate deconstructions.

Unlike other communities of in-game photography, this stands out as having a very artistic sense and strongly connected with photographic history and traditions.

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Claire Hentschker – GTA Image Average Series

Claire Hentschker, “GTA Image Average Series”, 2017


Avatar above the Sea, © Claire Hentschker, 2017

Rückenfigur, literally “back-figure” in German, is a compositional device that was often used by Caspar David Friedrich. In Friedrich’s painting Wanderer in the Sea of Fog, the viewer is invited into the composition through a figure in the painting’s foreground that serves as surrogate for the scene. We see the back of the man’s black coat as he stands atop a rocky terrain before the grandness of the sea, horizon, and sky before him. The man gazes into sublime nature, and through him—this Rückenfigur—we, the viewers of the painting, become immersed in the setting and can witness his grand view of the landscape with our own eyes, as if through the back of his head. Grand Theft Auto V presents a similar opportunity for immersion into a landscape by way of an avatar with its back turned—a digital Rückenfigur of sorts.

Owning and playing Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is not the only way to experience the majesty of a digital world that has been created to encapsulate the narrative of the game. Many individuals participate in the YouTube economy of posting and watching videos of gameplay. Such documentation videos are frequently recorded in third-person mode, characterized by the back of an avatar at the center of the screen through which the player navigates the world. With this perspective, the landscape shifts while the avatar remains relatively fixed in the foreground of the scene. Unlike in Friedrich’s world, the Rückenfigur through which we experience the GTA landscape is not necessarily human. There are third-person videos to be found featuring any or all the following protagonists: bikes, cars, trucks, trains, motorcycles, blimps, helicopters, boats, and even all-powerful and immortal deer. (The latter the result of a fantastic artwork by Brent Watanabe.)

The desire to capture the sublime potential of nature through an idealized scene may have begun with Friedrich, but it transcends the ages, as evidenced in the names of uploaded gameplay videos. Excerpts entitled GTA 5 SunsetGTA V: Beautiful sunset flightGrand Theft Auto V—The Drive Through The SunsetGTA 5—Beat The Sunset: A Drifting Montage, only begin to scratch the surface of the vast amount of video recorded by one player’s avatar’s experience of the same algorithmic sunset. These videos consistently feature comments by viewers expressing their gratitude for the video and their shared appreciation of the beauty of the landscape. For example, viewer GTAgreat says, “Good job. Sunset is breathtaking :OOO.”

In this series of works, I want to investigate Grand Theft Auto as a subject of art that transposes Friedrich’s subjective Romanticism to the digital age. I am particularly interested in working with videos that other players have already deemed important enough to share. This collection provides a sampling of GTA’s digital world that incorporates both the gaze of an avatar and the eyes of a living viewer encoded into the experience of the scene. The view and the location presented around the avatar is a representation of what a single player decided to record and share.

To create the images in the series, I employed a technique called “image averaging,” notably used previously by artists such as Jim Campbell and Jason Salavon. The average of a series of digital images is calculated so that the more consistent characteristics shared by the images are rendered in greater detail. In this case, I was using video frames from YouTube videos of GTA gameplay. The game’s avatar, consistently encountering the world around it, remains a constant presence on the screen and is therefore rendered in more detail than the surrounding world. As the world passes by, the avatar remains virtually unchanged, and the contrast between the more realized avatar and the blur of the shifting landscape becomes evident in the resulting images. Each image is the sum of someone’s desire to share an imaginary world through a gameplay video. And, as Sammy R—in the comments section of one of these videos assures us—“This is Art.”

source: http://www.clairesophie.com/gta-image-average-series/

Skawennati – Machinimagraphs

Skawennati has coined the term “Machinimagraph” to identitfy a still image taken from machinima.

She Is Dancing With Herself, © Skawennati, Machinimagraph 16:9, 2015, from http://studioforcreativeinquiry.org/events/skawennati

Skawennati is a pioneering new media artist working with digital art and machinima. She addresses issues of history and identity, and she is behind CyberPowWow, an Indigenously-determined online gallery conceived in 1996, which pave the way for Concordia’s Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace.

artist website: http://www.skawennati.com/

Rob Wetzer – Lost Worlds (2013 – ongoing)

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Installation shots of Lost Worlds at Photo Festival Schiedam 2017, http://www.fotofestivalschiedam.nl/exhibition/lost-worlds/
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Lost Worlds in Raw View #8, http://www.rawview.org/product/raw-view-8/

Lost Worlds is a visual exploration for what we perceive as nature, or natural.

The environments in which I make these images are the virtual landscapes of videogames. Where these landscapes used to be cardboard backdrops, they have become seemingly unlimited worlds. Designed to seduce the player to go explore pristine landscapes, they contain lush rainforests, icy mountain ranges, rushing waterfalls and barren deserts. Well-programmed weather systems provide rain, sunshine or snow and day and night cycles add to the ‘realness’ of the experience. To achieve a sublime-as-possible experience, the designs of these landscapes borrow heavily from Romantic interpretations of nature by painters as Caspar David Friedrich and Albert Bierstadt.

source: https://www.robwetzer.nl/lost-worlds/

more info: http://www.gamescenes.org/2017/02/game-art-robert-wetzers-lost-worlds-2013-ongoing.html

Eva and Franco Mattes – Reenactments

Artists Eva and Franco Mattes have reenactedhistorical performances inside videogames, in their work titled Reenactments (2007-10).

Performances reenacted include works by Gilbert&George, Marina Abramovic, Vito Acconci, Chris Burden and Valie Export. Anyone could participate connecting from all over the world.

Eva + Franco Mattes

Eva + Franco Mattes The Pigs of Todat are the Hams of Tomorrow Plymouth, January 2010

Reenactment of Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s Imponderabilia (2007-10)

more on the artists page: http://0100101110101101.org/reenactments/

James Bridle – Picture Piece: Video Game Photography

On Frieze Magazine, James Bridle shows Justin Berry’s Stone Shields (2012) – an image taken from the game Medal of Honor – and compares it with Anselm Adams’ 1968 photograph El Capitan, Winter, Sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California.

It doesn’t carry any obvious signs of digital manipulation, but it bears out Adams’s famous remark: ‘You don’t take a photograph, you make it.’ Stone Shields is a composite of screenshots, created within the virtual world of the first-person-shooter video game Medal of Honor: its landscape is entirely digital. It is a composite of composites, as every pixel has been rendered from millions of lines of code and pre-existing textures created by the game’s designers, captured within the experience of the game itself (one notorious for its violence and militarism), and ultimately manipulated by Berry. In its artifice, it reveals all the artifice of image-making itself.

in his ending remark Bridle aligns the construction of the image through the camera medium and the textured digital image making process:

photography itself is a construct, and all images contain the mechanics of their own making.

full article: http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/picture-piece-video-game-photography/

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