My work explores how we engage with virtual reality and escapism. Unlike the vicarious narrative of a movie or novel, the first person immersive involvement of a computer game and an online virtual world enables us to participate emotionally and socially in an alternative dimension to our familiar physical life. The participant can enjoy a rewarding and fulfilling virtual existence free from many of the pitfalls and uncertainties that can make real life so stressful.
The images portray the moment when the real and the virtual worlds meet. Not physically at the interface of a computer screen, but psychologically as the player recognises the blurring of the real / unreal boundary and is aware of the conflict that exists in his/her time being divided between the two. They represent imagined potential emotional triggers that remind the player of their roles and responsibilities in the real world.
The images are constructed using a combination of traditional photography and the 3D modelling techniques of the video game industry. But instead of portraying the escapist fantasy sought in the online world they reflect the more mundane nature of the player’s everyday life.
The work comprises of four series of images so far;
“Night” – From where the images have been selected for “reGeneration2: Tomorrow’s Photographers Today”. In this series the viewer is a voyeur gazing at the playing out of mundane scenes from the protagonist’s imagined life.
“The Game” – Comprises a series of imaginary video game stills where the viewer is the participant in the reflected ordinariness of his everyday life.
“House” – Explores the idea of the imagined intimate, personal, domestic space, and what is it that makes a house a nurturing safe environment where we are free to experiment and grow. I am particularly interested in the notion that for the first time technology has enabled us to create a genuinely photoreal yet entirely fictional space.
“Lost in Space” – Deals with our relationship with our online selves explored through the loose narrative of an imaginary protagonist. The global population of avatars is estimated to be well in excess of 200 million (and higher if we include Facebook, Twitter profiles etc.) each with an identity that is neither completely separate nor totally unified with that of its creator. The user accumulates experiences, memories and friendships as an avatar and these are distinctly separate from those gained in the physical world. The player and the “player as avatar”, therefore, inevitably grow apart, and it is this physical / onscreen relationship that I am interested in exploring.