What is real, what is artificial? The border between the two is beginning to fade. In the visual language of the advertising industry, the border between real photography and digitally calculated models is almost indistinguishable. This also applies to the film industry, where CGI (computer generated imagery) seamlessly blends with physically recorded footage. Furthermore, the fulfilment of the promises of VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and AI (artificial intelligence) is just around the corner.
It’s becoming somewhat of a challenge to distinguish between images that represent reality and images that depict reality. This theme lies at the heart of the exhibition: a Simulacrum stands for a simulation that takes the place of the reality it stems from.
As this technological development progresses it also becomes more accessible. What until recently was only reserved for prosperous studios now lies within the reach of individual artists. Everyday computers, game consoles, and even smartphones are so powerful that they are able to work with increasingly lifelike CGI models.
Noorderlicht shows nine artists who are fascinated by this development. Some of them manoeuvre through computer games with a virtual camera, like real reportage photographers in a virtual reality. Others construct their own images from scratch, revealing to us a new world that is barely distinguishable from reality.
The participant artists:
Mathieu Bernard-Reymond - Interruption (FR)
This series exposes the process of creation. The calculation process that enables these landscapes to come to life is repeatedly interrupted; the half-completed images are merged with one another. A fictional landscape becomes visible in this way, where the mathematic polygons of the calculation process still filter through.
Justin Berry - Videogame Landscapes (US)
Berry’s landscapes resemble nature as seen through the eyes of classical masters. In reality, he scours video games in search of the scenery behind the game, which he saves as screenshots. His final photorealistic images emerge as a collage of the manifold details that he captures in this way.
COLL.EO (Colleen Flaherty & Matteo Bittanti) - Fregoli Delusions (US/IT)
These videos originate from games, however they ignore the drivers and racing cars that play the leading role in them. The extras are given central stage instead. What is it like to be a character without a role, in the hallucination of the game? A Fregoli Delusion is a medical delusional disorder, which revolves around the illusion of repetitions and double identities.
Eelco Brand (NL)
Brand’s work is an artificial reflection of a tangible world. He researches the possibilities of 3D software in photographs, videos and objects. Nature is a recurring theme, fluctuating between deceptively realistic images and fiction with an absurd take. This exhibition shows several of Brand’s photographs and videos.
Roc Herms - Study of Perspective / Postcards from Home (ES)
Herms sees an analogy between Grand Theft Auto V and the work of Ai Wei Wei. Both are controversial and take a critical look at modern civilisation. The rebellious and anti-authoritarian "Study of Perspective" by the Chinese artist is recreated here in GTA V. Also exhibited is "Postcards from Home", a photobook about Herms’ virtual adventures in the world of Playstation.
Gerhard Mantz - Landscapes (DE)
Upon first sight, these landscapes appear realistic and enticing. However, take a closer look and they turn out to be alienated, imaginary realities. Mantz uses abstract calculations; his models take archetypal spaces as the base to build out from. New memories are created, which are about universal emotions rather than specific places.
Robert Overweg - The End of the Virtual World / Flying & Floating (NL)
The world of a virtual game is not round but flat, with a hard edge at the end. Overweg examines the fringes of video games. What does the end of the world look like? Is a casual scene able to surprise us with a new view? And if he diverges from the well-trodden path as a gamer, a surreal landscape of malfunctioning software appears.
Alan Warburton - Assets / Spherical Harmonics (GB)
Individual 3D objects can be purchased for commercial use via online stock libraries. The series “Assets” presents these kinds of objects as photographic still lifes in an isolated, context-free setting. "Spherical Harmonics", a film commissioned by The Photographers’ Gallery, takes the viewer on a journey through the virtual worlds that can be constructed with these objects.
Rob Wetzer - Lost Worlds (NL)
The gamer is invited to venture into a journey of discovery through pristine territories. The 3D designers behind these kinds of landscapes make frequent use of the ideal images embedded in our collective consciousness. It is an idyllic image of unspoilt nature, which in its artificiality stands as a symbol for the contact we have lost with real nature.