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shoot & see

“The history of the movie camera thus coincides with the history of automatic weapons,” writes Friedrich Kittler. He notes that in the act of fixing and focusing on objects moving through space, there are two possible methods – to shoot and to film. The camera penetrates each space in the video, hunting not guided by range target, but by camera target. It accesses them and explores them relatively thoroughly, in spite of their classifications. At the same time, it operates in a cinematic, durational time in a dissociated, hyper-real navigation. Hunting video games are an accurate (perhaps logically anticipated) follow-up to Kittler’s metaphor. They engage the camera as the hunting crosshairs and camera viewfinder simultaneously, as an immersive and often jilting experience. As the subsequent layer of what is classifiably virtual, video games require willing players, viewers, and shooters at the same time. The camera is the virtual weapon it always has been, yet now in a cinematic space.

Alexander Galloway in Gaming: Essays in Algorithmic Culture notes that “one of the most central theoretical issues in gaming is how and in what way one can make connections between the gaming world and the real world, both from the inside outward in the form of affective action, and from the outside inward in the form of realistic representation.” He continues by describing video games as a new function of representation different than cinema, photography, and other forms of image-making. Debates regarding representation, he says, focus on whether images (or language) are a genuine reflection of reality, offering “an unmediated truth about the world.” Games have inherited this same debate, yet are both watched and played, supplementing the “phenomenon of action.” Shoot & See requires no action in the way that a user-intensive role-playing game does, but requires the act of looking in the context of a video game’s immersive environment. The photographs complicate this by stilling the spaces of the video into singular shots, seeming to ask the viewer to hunt for some hidden target or clue towards their function, beyond representation.

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