22 November 2021

A Virtual Memory of Los Angeles

22 November 2021 - Written by PhMuseum

By photographing screenshots from the popular video game Grand Theft Auto V, Eleonora Paciullo looks to create a hyperreal documentation of L.A. that challenges the viewer’s sense of authenticity while simultaneously offering a new perspective on the use of VR imagery.

The idea of realism has been crucial for every medium, from painting to photography, and now virtual imagery. The latter plays an ever-increasing role in our visual experience of the world, due to a large number of electronic devices we use every day. The relation we have with images is drastically changing in the digital era: the interaction, use and re-use, instant access and production. 

My photographic series questions our relationship with virtual images by creating analogue photographic memories from my wandering through the video game GTA V (a video game taking place in Los Angeles). My desire as a photographer is to explore these somehow familiar environments without physically going. My attempt here is to get the identity of these virtual places that both reflect and contribute to the Americana - as Jean Baudrillard states: “America is neither a dream nor a reality, it is a hyperreality. [...] The American city seems to be born from cinema. In order to grasp its secret, one must not go from the city to the screen, but from the screen to the city.” 

The photographic medium is used for its capacity of leaving a valuable trace and memory. The analogue photographs shot with the Mamiya RZ67 give to the screenshots of a virtual Los Angeles new materiality by merging the pixels into the grain of the film, creating a singular aesthetic. Following the same artistic approach, the photographs are presented alongside excerpts from dialogue found in the videogame. The photos consequently produced, question the viewer about their nature and veracity, bringing a new perspective on the narrative potential of VR images.

Words and Pictures by Eleonora Paciullo.


Eleonora Paciullo is a photographer, book designer and photo-editor of The Light Observer magazine. In her artistic practice, she explores places, whether they are real or hyperreal, mental or physical. Her work develops a new kind of documentary, one that questions our relationship to reality and perception, experimenting with different media. Find her on PhMuseum and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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