- PhMuseum 2022 Photography Grant
West of Here
Dates2020 - 2021
At first glance "West of Here" looks like a classical photographic survey of Los Angeles and its surroundings, following in the footsteps of the many great photographers who worked in that city - Ruscha, Baltz, Gohlke, Wessel, Hernandez, Divola, Ruwedel and others. Upon closer inspection, however, the work reveals his deception.
All the images comes in fact from Grand Theft Auto V, a video game set in Los Santos, an “open world” scenario that closely resembles Los Angeles and its surroundings. Thus, the city of studios, Hollywood and the film industry becomes itself a set, a staging. Transformed into a virtual replica, a duplicate of the original, the city is immediately familiar and recognizable, but at the same time pieces are missing, distances are altered, dimensions are changed.
Instead of being captured directly by the author within the game, the original images are deliberately found on the web, and come from screenshots, wallpapers and videos, originally taken by different players around the world while playing the video game. This process serves to shed a further light on the ubiquitous proliferation of image-making, whilst creating a single narrative out of a “collective memory” of a place that does not exist.
What does it mean to photograph such a place? What light are we writing with? What is the value of the physical traces of an intangible reality? While exploring the possibilities and the meanings of photographing a virtual place, the work addresses further issues, such as the truthfulness of photography and our belief in this medium as a trace of reality. Collected from the web, edited, cropped and turned to black and white by the author, the images loose their virtual evidence and blur the distinction between false and real.