Marco De Mutiis – Photo Modes as a Post-photographic Apparatus

De Mutiis, Marco. 2017. “Photo Modes as a Post-photographic Apparatus” In Augmented Photography, edited by Milo Keller, Joël Vacheron, Maxime Guyon. Lausanne: Editions ECAL. ISBN: 978-2-9701157-4-8


[in] Photo Modes, players by default cannot not share their in-game photos when they take the picture on a PS4. Indeed, PS4 controllers have a dedicated button for taking the picture, labelled the ‘share button’. On the official Playstation YouTube channel, the Photo Mode tutorial for the Last of Us Remastered game – perhaps the first game to popularize Photo Modes – reminds us: ‘Once you have framed up your shot, just press the share button.’ And ‘this new mode allows you to freeze action in the game, adjust the camera, and add custom effects and frame before sharing them with the share button […].’ Photo Modes entirely transform the shutter button of traditional cameras by merging its function with the compulsory sharing of the image on the internet. In this sense, the role of the player-photographer within Photo Modes aligns with that of the Flusser’s clueless functionary, operating at the service of the black box. Even with a lesser degree of freedom, as the player-photographer is only left with two operations:

1. Aesthetic configuration

2. Sharing

With the material world gone and the physical apparatus disappeared, we are left with the momentary pleasure of tweaking parameters and adjusting colours on screen until we can finally execute our job, the creation of what Beller calls ‘computational capital’.


While Photo Modes may appear, at first glance, to be merely a nostalgic simulation of a simple photographic past made of shallow depth of field and poetic colour filters, its inner mechanics reveal that they are in fact part of contemporary post-photographic apparatus and integrally connected with the distribution and circulation of images online within the attention economy. Following this line of ideas, I would like to suggest that Photo Modes can be understood as a specific kind of Seeing Machine, one that requires functionaries to generate value through the acts of taking and sharing a picture. Photo Modes are inscribed within a larger ecology that includes fan trailer videos, ‘Let’s play’ videos, in-game screenshots etc. and, at the same time, offers a unique construction provided by the game developers that showcases a specific economic and political model of the photographic medium.

read the full article here:

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.


Alison Gazzard – Between Pixels And Play: The Role of the Photograph in Videogame Nostalgias

“Between Pixels And Play: The Role of the Photograph in Videogame Nostalgias” by  Alison Gazzard.

Photography & Culture Volume 9—Issue 2 July 2016 pp. 151–162 DOI: 10.1080/17514517.2016.1203589, © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

The histories of videogames are so often contained with nostalgia for the screen, for the arcade, console, computer or game box design, and for the experience of playing itself. Various amateur photographs now archived on Flickr allow us to remember beyond the stereotypical, albeit iconic, imagery of PacMan and Space Invaders. The essence of play becomes captured in the photograph as a “collective memory” and “reflective nostalgia” for the places, times and actions inherent in the histories of the early 1970s and 1980s videogame era. It is through debating the so-often implied “reconstructed nostalgias” offered by videogame companies to consumers in their remakes of classic game titles that this paper explores “reflective nostalgia” of videogames by examining the role of photographs taken during the act of playing these games. In doing so it reframes 1980s videogame nostalgias beyond the “mediated space” of the screen, and moves instead towards the “play space” as another way of keeping these histories alive.

Cindy Poremba – Point and Shoot, Remediating Photography in Gamespace

“Point and Shoot,  Remediating Photography in Gamespace” is a 2007 essay by Cindy Poremba. Here the author looks at the phenomenon of screenshots photograph of digital games and their relationship with photography. The virtualisation of photography, she claims, remediates many aspects of traditional photography.

Considering the time of the essay and its scope and content, this can be seen as a defining and pioneering writing for the discourse of in-game photography.

If the process and ritual behind this image making is similar, the players themselves are validating the reality of their subjects simply by creating a document of these experiences. In this sense, players are taking real photos, just in virtual spaces.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 14.09.22

Although game photos remain a representation (through remediation) of the technique of representation, photography nonetheless carves out a space for itself within play, bringing new practice to the digital game.

originally published in: Games and Culture, Volume 2 Number 1, January 2007 49-58 © 2007 Sage Publications 10.1177/1555412006295397