Alan Butler, Sturtevant/a_m_f_skidrow_01 Finite Infinite, 2018

SITUATION #129: Alan Butler, Sturtevant/a_m_f_skidrow_01 Finite Infinite, 2018

part of Fotomuseum Winterthur SITUATIONS programme.

In Sturtevant/a_m_f_skidrow_01 Finite Infinite, a short video loop portraying a non-player character (NPC) from a computer game is projected on a rotating beamer in the installation space. The installation builds on Butler’s previous work, Down and Out in Los Santos. There, the artist embarked on a journey through the social landscape of the video game Grand Theft Auto V to document the lives of homeless NPCs in the virtual city of Los Santos. One of the characters he encountered is at the centrepiece of his new work: a homeless NPC that bears a striking resemblance to conceptual artist Sturtevant. The character is transformed into a hybrid, computational entity, half human-looking, yet resembling a dog running endlessly in circles. By directing our gaze to the characters that inhabit the uncanny borders of non/human, the artist challenges the viewer to rethink anthropomorphic representation and consider these digital entities and bots as autonomous creatures that do not subjugate to a human hierarchy.

Sturtevant/a_m_f_skidrow_01 Finite Infinite is accompanied by the online video essay Mondo Cane.

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source: https://www.fotomuseum.ch/en/explore/situations/154957

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/

2 x 26 Gasoline Stations

“Twentysix Gasoline Stations in Grand Theft Auto V” by M. Earl Williams, 2014

Screenshot 2017-12-11 22.02.18.png
screenshot of book spread as seen on http://www.blurb.com/b/5454103-twentysix-gasoline-stations, © M. Earl Williams

26 Gasoline Stations was a book and conceptual photography series created by Ed Ruscha in 1963. In my version I take a 4X5 view camera and point it at my T.V. screen while I explore the virtual world of Los Santos in the video game Grand Theft Auto V. This world is created to mimic the real world of California and most specifically the city of Los Angeles. As I visit this world from my couch I wait for something to catch my eye as familiar or visually interesting just like we do when we photograph in the real world. By relating back to this series of travel photographs but having the entire travel log take place in a virtual world of a video game; the work speaks to an idea of another reality in which we occupy and participate in simulated experience. When looking at a photograph the viewer receives visual stimuli of the mind that in return triggers a feeling that is most likely made up of an experience they may have had in the past. This process is not unlike the video game world that is created as an expression of an idealist reality, whose purpose is to provide you with simulated occurrences. This connection between these two mediums may be why the digital age has become so fascinated with them both.

source: http://www.mearlwilliams.com/gasoline_stations#1

 

“Twentysix Gasoline Stations” by Alan Butler, 2017

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two page spread from book © Alan Butler

This work is a simulacrum of Ed Ruscha’s 1962 publication of the same name. The photographic panels in this version have been produced during drives around the city of Los Santos and Blaine County – the virtual world that makes up the video game Grand Theft Auto 5. Using out-of-the-box technology within the game, I have produced a version of the seminal photography artifact that accepts GTAV as an exploitable corporate reality, akin to the signs and images that make up our own world.

source: http://www.alanbutler.info/twentysix-gasoline-stations/

Vladimir Rizov – Virtual Photography, Immersion, and Boundaries in Grand Theft Auto V

Vladimir Rizov: Virtual Photography, Immersion, and Boundaries in Grand Theft Auto V.

Photography is a visual practice that deals with the production of images. Images, be it digital or analogue, moving or still, are consistently framed in a particular material artefact. Furthermore, most perspectives tend to see the image as a singular, material final product that is deeply rooted in a teleological framework. However, such perspectives clearly omit the richness of the concept image, as this conference rightly raises the issues of materiality, multimodality, and mediality. In order to demonstrate the inherent multisensory aspect of an image, as well as its rootedness in a practice that is not necessarily teleological, I will explore instances of photographs taken in-game by Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) players. The element of virtuality in the game will reveal several aspects of the image. First, the disembodied element of virtuality poses an interesting relationship between image, medium, and the body (Hansen, 2004). This relates heavily to issues of embodiment and agency, where the two practices of photography and gaming meet. While gaming is widely seen to be concerned with immersion, photography can be conceptualised as a practice of seeing. Second, because images exist dependent on a medium, the contrast between the moving images of the virtual game world of GTA V and the still photographs created will provide opportunity for reflection on the concept of image in its multiple forms. As Vivian Sobchack writes ‘electronic presence has neither a point of view nor a visual situation, such as we experience, respectively, with the photograph and the cinema’ (2000: 151). However, what happens when the third person experience of GTA V coincides with a POV use of a virtual camera? As Galloway points out, shooter games already have expanded the ‘definitional bounds of the subjective shot’ (2006: 63), but the POV use of a virtual camera seems to not only be expanding the experience of the virtual world, but simultaneously questioning it; both allowing for further immersion and potential detachment from the in-game world. This is particularly interesting, since games are widely considered ‘an active medium’ (Galloway, 2006: 83) that involves a player’s physical input and multisensory experience. However, while Galloway claims that ‘the primary phenomenological reality of games is that of action (rather than looking, as it is with cinema in what Jameson described as “rapt, mindless fascination”)’ (2006: 83), the case of virtual photography in-game problematizes this by converging action and seeing into a singular experience.

source: http://filmbildtheorie.de/?page_id=1372

Thibault Brunet

Thibault Brunet is a French photographer who works with images from game environments. His series Vice City (2008) is entirely shot within Grand Theft Auto Vice City and lets us “explore the spaces that are usually forgotten by players. The pictures show side spaces, barren and industrialized areas. The aesthetics reminds us contemporary photo shooting, Japanese engraving and painting. Confusion is over the nature and the origins of these floating pictures”.

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A pertinent way of questioning an unusual path, as yet little explored in contemporary creation: the aesthetic elements of video games, diverted and transformed into a work of art.

Amélie Adamo «Wandering in a Virtual World» ETC Magazine

Project page: http://thibaultbrunet.fr/#vice-city-4

 

In his series First Person Shooter, Brunet isolates landscapes from video games, that look like an uncertain Middle East location, and portraits of soldiers-characters.

Pvt-Golden1Sgt-Foley1

Brunet is successfully commenting on the surreality of virtual entertainment worlds created via avatars and algorithms that are in turn based on real-life, drawing us back in to consider the inherent surreality of war itself.

Amanda Lang, Aperture Foundation

Project page: http://thibaultbrunet.fr/#first-person-shooter-3

Benoit Paillé

Benoit Paillé is a photographer who has worked with pictures taken within GTA V, combined with real world cameras and photography production. He attempts to merge the two realities, in an interplay between the virtual and the real.

 

Crossroad of realities, project page: https://gbuffer.myportfolio.com/crossroad-of-realities

 

Grand Theft Auto – cameras and photo missions

Grand Theft Auto has incorporated an in-game camera in its franchise since 2002, growingly giving importance and expanding the capabilities of photography in the gameplay and as a free photo tool independent from the game missions. Camera simulation in GTA is always a first person view, with the frame of the camera viewfinder. The player has the ability to zoom, but no other control (like focus, aperture…) is available. Alternative to the camera, there is also a smartphone with a camera app, in more recent GTA editions (GTA IV and V).

[…] The device was also available in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, albeit with more functionality, allowing Carl to use it freely. It can be used in San Fierro to collect snapshots, which is required to achieve 100% completion. The camera has a capacity of 36 pictures per film, and pictures taken can be saved. If the player recruits a gang member, the player can give the camera to him by walking up to him and pulling the left trigger. After that, the game is viewed through the perspective of the gang member and pictures of CJ can be taken. The player can also aim the camera at a girlfriend and CJ will say something related to photo-shooting and she will wave. If you aim the camera at a gang member, CJ will say something like he says to his girlfriend, but the gang member will not respond or wave unless the player has recruited him.

[…] [In Grand Theft Auto IV] The camera is used in certain missions where a picture is required. Outside of missions, snapshots can be taken, but there is no way of saving them.

[…]In Grand Theft Auto V, the camera is replaced by the Snapmatic app on smartphones. Snapmatic has the same function as regular cameras, but allows users to take selfies or use filters. In the mission Paparazzo, Franklin follows Miranda Cowan’sLimo so Beverly Felton can take pictures of the actress consuming drugs. Subsequent Paparazzo missions also feature the use of cameras. In the mission Casing the Jewel Store, Lester givesMichael a pair of glasses fitted with a camera, to study Vangelico’s vents and security systems, which can’t be used outside of missions.

Prominent appearances in missions

GTA: Vice City

GTA: San Andreas

GTA: Liberty City Stories

GTA: Vice City Stories

GTA IV

The Lost and Damned

GTA V

GTA Online

source: GTA wikia, http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Camera


[selected missions featuring photography]

GTA VICE CITY – “Martha’s Mug Shot”

Grand Theft Auto Vice City was the first GTA to feature a camera mode in its gameplay. In one mission the player had to take incriminating pictures of a politician.

http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Martha’s_Mug_Shot

GTA SAN ANDREAS – “Photo Opportunity”

In this mission, the player has to get on the roof of a building to take pictures of each target.

http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Photo_Opportunity

GTA LIBERTY CITY STORIES – “Snappy Dresser”

http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Snappy_Dresser

GTA VICE CITY STORIES – “The Mugshot Longshot

http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/The_Mugshot_Longshot


GTA IV – “Photo Shoot”

In one mission in GTA IV called “Photo Shoot”, the player has to take pictures of gang members and send it to another character, to individuate the target for an assassination. The photo is taken with the character in-game camera phone, which allows zooming.

GTA V – “Paparazzo photo missions”

In GTA V, all of the three main character has a smartphone with camera capability, and the player has the ability to take pictures freely and indipendently from missions and gameplay objectives. Photography however is also integrated in missions related to the “Strangers and Freaks” side storyline. Here the player works with a Paparazzi to get pictures of specific targets.

http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Paparazzo_-_The_Meltdown

http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Paparazzo_-_The_Highness


GTA V – Wildlife Photography Challenge”

http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Wildlife_Photography_Challenge

“Grand Theft Auto In Real Life”

A GTA V fan took photos in the game city of Los Santos and then tried to take photos in Los Angeles and match the two. The level of resemblance of the photograph is remarkable, both because of the realism of the game world and the matching of photo angle and composition of the two shots. See all the images on the original post here on GTAist: http://www.gtaist.com/grand-theft-auto-in-real-life/

By dragging from the center to the image you can reveal one of the two pictures. Sliding to the far left or far right will unmask the photo taken in real LA or the one from game.

At the bottom of the article you find a game selfie reenactement project. The author of the video (jonan777) matches in-game selfies with selfies taken in real life Los Angeles. Once again the level of accuracy in matching the two is held in great consideration.

Compilation of selfies of Franklin GTA V compared side by side to selfies of jonan777 in a LA trip. Its been a year of Gta v and after 600hr+ of playing it this trip made me feel like I was inside the game. I missed some selfies but everything was exactly like R* replicated in the game. #gtaforlife

Landscape photographers of Los Santos and Blaine County

by Daniel Tudyka on Flickr

Landscape photographers of Los Santos and Blaine County 

flickr group: www.flickr.com/groups/landscapesoflossantos/

facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/521081951315522/?fref=ts

this is a community of people with a strong photographic interest in the images taken from GTA V. the group descritption reads:

A home for photographs taken by photographers in Grand Theft Auto V. GTA V has so many opportunities for landscape photography in all weathers and times of day that it seems like this is a good idea.

Please try to download your images at socialclub.rockstargames.com/games/gtav/snapmatic/ and then work them up in Photoshop or your favorite editor before posting them here in all their glory.

Please keep this to landscape ONLY and the group is marked as ‘safe’ so no sexual or violent images please. No shots featuring cars and trucks predominantly. This group is seriously just for LANDSCAPE shots. Thanks!

[…]

Here are the rules. No ‘selfies’. No crotch shots. No dead animals. No shootings or killings. There are plenty of places for those!

This is a place for landscape pictures only. They can be rural or urban.

The ideal is that people will grab a screenshot, take it into Photoshop (or your favourite editor), do their best to make it interesting/beautiful/easily mistaken for reality and then upload it here. So post processing is important though not as important as location, time of day, weather and composition considerations.