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.
Friedrich Tietjen. „It’s virtual! Really!“ Photography, Space and Reality in Video Games As the necessary computing power and HD screens get available to consumers, photo realism in video games seems to be within reach. However the closer game designers come this goal, the farther it seems to be away. The visual surfaces even of advanced games such as Wolfenstein – The New Order, Dear Esther and DayZ still give away on first glance what they are: computer generated, not filmed or photographed. So why is there so much money, time and intelligence wasted on a goal that seems to be as much an illusion as the games themselves? The answer tried here has less to do with the visual surfaces of photography, and much more with the way photography and film structure the perception of temporality and space. Accompanying the exhibition Punctum at Salzburger Kunstverein (07/26-09/21/2014) was a lecture series of artists and theorists on topical subjects of photography today. Lecture held on 27 July 2014.
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
Other Places is “a series celebrating beautiful video game worlds” created by Andy Kelly. This video series consists of footage taken within several video game worlds and edited to a soundtrack, which is arbitrarily chosen by the author to match the mood of the environments. The landscapes of most videos of the series are often environments devoid of human presence (and of the character’s interaction with the environment from the gameplay), resulting in evocative works which have an experimental documentary feel (at times reminding me of the Qatsi trilogy by Godfrey Reggio)
Other Places official homepage: http://www.otherplaces.co.uk/about
An interview by Rainer Sigl with Andy Kelly on videogametourism: http://videogametourism.at/content/other-places-interview-andy-kelly