Screenshot deluxe

Curating artwork that deals with video games has a number of unique and often hidden challenges. In the past, most video game art shows took place at informal or mixed-use fan spaces like comic book stores, parties, or conventions. As video games become more mainstream, and the fine art world increasingly engages with video games and video game culture, the venues and curation of these shows become critical factors for how these broader audiences experience the art.

Fresh from curating and installing the art show “Screen Knowledges: Photography in the Era of Videogames” at a space called ETA (a hybrid music venue, bar, and gallery in the trendy Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles) Kent Sheely and Eron Rauch sat down to share some of what they learned from curating the show.

Photography, and how we use it to understand the world, is undergoing massive changes in the era of digital information technology. While these fractures, slippages, and mismatches can be frustrating, they can also be incredibly fertile sites for artistic production. After all, what could be more apt a metaphor for media-bombarded 2017 than the awkward, sometimes distressing act, of trying to figure out how use a technology that is almost 200 years old to deal with the implications of the futurist-media du jour, video games?

My own work, dealing with photography, virtual landscape, glitches, and the unseen traces of online gaming, has been fueled by this tension. And who would be a better partner in conversation about this often amusingly awkward, but also surprisingly potent, act of making art that combines these two massive cultural forces, than Kent Sheely, an artist who is perhaps best known for his video art/performance piece “Modern Pacifism,” in which he tried to play through Call of Duty without killing anyone. Inspired by our collaborative curation of a show about photography and video games called Screen Knowledges, we sat down to discuss the ways we find subject matter in our relationship to video games and art history.

In the lead-up to collaborating to curate an art show Screen Knowledges, which looks at what contemporary artists are doing to advance screenshot and in-game photography, Kent Sheely and I did a large number of studio visits. These meetings involved looking at each other’s work, but also sprawling conversations about the threads that wove through our own artistic oeuvre, our personal lives, the work of each other, and of our fellow artists.

My massive ongoing project Valhalla Nocturnes, which is made up of long-exposure abstracts and self-portraits shot while playing video games late at night, became something of a focal point for our conversations around artistic process. After we finished the show, Kent used this project as a jumping point to talk about some of the often thorny and contradictory aspects of the process of making art that often get covered over by institutional wall blurbs and PR language.

Though it waxes and wanes in public consciousness and gets called by different names (screenshots, virtual photography, or more recently, in-game photography) over the past decade there have been a whole host of artists who have explored video games through photography. My first project that combined the two was a series from 2001 which re-printed cryptic landscape images found on Everquest forums, after learning the reason one of my old friends had dropped out of high school was to play the game. Kent Sheely has also been exploring this far-flung cultural space for just about as long as anyone else.

After collaborating to curate a recent art show about video games and photography, titled Screen Knowledges, I had a moment where I realized what a long, winding trek it has been to get to this artwork in 2017. Given his status as one of the most veteran artists in this genre, I wanted to talk to Kent about the arc of his oeuvre and hear his thoughts about how the field has changed over the past years.

Andreas Inderwildi nimmt für die Serie „En Detail“ die Lupe zur Hand und sucht in Videospielen nach denjenigen visuellen Schnörkeln, die in der Reizflut leicht untergehen können. Im ersten Teil besuchen wir die Straßen Karnacas.

Optische Opulenz und Detailversessenheit sind in modernen Big Budget Games eher Regel als Ausnahme, doch kaum ein Entwickler versteht dieses Handwerk so gut wie Arkane Studios. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider beweist wieder einmal eindrücklich, dass die Schöpfer der urbanen Welten von Dunwall und Karnaca dem Großteil der Konkurrenz weit voraus sind. Vom Schmutz der Straßen bis hin zur überwältigenden Dekadenz der sozialen Elite wird hier eine Welt gemalt, die in ihrer Taktilität, Reichhaltigkeit und Diversität eine fast schon berauschende Wirkung entfalten kann. Der Deckenstuck einer Villa, die Textur von Rost auf einem alten Schiff, der verzierte Griff einer Pistole, die vernarbte Haut eines Okkultisten; Death of the Outsider strotzt nur so vor Details, von welchen ich hier einige vorstellen möchte.

Der Master-Studiengang Computerspielwissenschaften der Universität Bayreuth hat seine Studenten dazu aufgerufen, In-game-Fotografien unter dem Motto "Video Game Tourism" einzureichen. Eine kleine Jury, der diesmal auch ich angehörte, hat die 20 besten Bilder ausgewählt, die seit kurzem online sowie physisch an der Uni an verschiedenen Standpunkten zu bewundern sind.

Auch hier gibt's - nach längerer Screenshot-Deluxe-Pause - die 20 ausgewählten Bilder zu sehen.

Games can be more than mere entertainment. In our column Alt+Home intermedia artist Kent Sheely explores the ways independent developers are challenging the status quo.

The subject of in-game photography has been addressed at-length, not least here on this very site, gamers and artists alike having long ago discovered the potential for turning their screens into a camera lens for capturing stunning images of the artificial worlds they inhabit. This is a natural development, as the rectangular format of the screen already lends itself to the form factor of a photograph. Entire blogs and exhibitions have been curated based on the idea, which in itself raises questions about the nature of photography & what sets a real photograph apart from a virtual one. Duncan Harris has made a name for himself by taking stunningly well-composed screenshots using a number of different modifications and tools.

Artists such as Robert Overweg have even gone beyond merely capturing images of the game world as it’s presented and attempt to catch games in glitched states, depicting the inner workings behind the facade. The argument about whether screenshots can be art has long since been put to rest, but the way games approach the concept continues to evolve and give us new ways of approaching this documentary practice in interactive media.

Bridging Worlds is a series by LA-based artist and VGT guest author Eron Rauch about the blurred line between games and art. These articles are intended as conversation starters about the burgeoning intersection between the fine art world, academic studies of games, virtual photography, and video game creation. This essay follows up on his thoughts here.

We live in a world of screens, simulations, rendered representations, and hybrid media. The deluge of digitally-generated spaces are all-pervasive in our businesses, in our media, in our hobbies, in our leisure, and in our relationships. Underpinning all of these virtual places are complex systems of code and hardware that create the rules of that particular feigned reality. The physics, the lights, the textures, and even the rules governing the rendering of perspective, are all crafted to seamlessly let us experience the space as being as visually real as possible.

The virtual photograph, whether it is a screenshot from a video game or from a Google Street View scene, is particularly compelling in our time regardless of whether it features a glorious moment of beauty or a jarring glitch precisely because it is leveraging one of the simplest ways we know and share in the Instagram age, photographs, to directly explore the immensely complicated systems that produce the myriad of digital realities that swarm around us.

Dass man in GTA tolle Ingame-Fotos machen kann, wurde im Rahmen der Serie zur Ingame-Fotografie schon des Öfteren demonstriert. Letztes Jahr hat Casey Brooks mit seinen Fotos aus Los Santos einen interessanten Showcase zum Thema präsentiert (und VGT hat ihn damals dazu interviewt ).

Der dänische Fotograf Morton Rockford Ravn geht noch ein Stück weiter und nähert sich GTA mit dem Auge des Crime-Fotografen in stylischem Schwarzweiß. Statt Street Photography ist Reportage, oft auch exploitativ, angesagt. The Creators Project ist mir zuvorgekommen und hat Ravn bereits ausführlich interviewt, deshalb im Folgenden nur ein paar Kostproben und die dringende Empfehlung, sich sowohl das Interview als auch den Tumblr Fear and Loathing in GTA V zu Gemüte zu führen.

Wie schön: Das Fotomuseum Winterthur ruft dazu auf, In-Game-Fotos und Screenshots für eine geplante Online-Ausstellung einzureichen.

Fotomuseum Winterthur is calling all videogame photographers and screenshot artists! Send us your best images taken in the video game of your choice, related to the theme of outsiders. We are interested in exploring the world of in-game photography and its diverse communities and how they contribute to the evolving practices of contemporary image-making. We are especially curious to look at the portrayal of outsiders in video games, whether game characters, urban environments or landscapes. The pictures selected will form a photo gallery on our website becoming the focus of an online discussion about photography and video games.

Hier kann man seine Bilder einreichen.