Screenshots from DoD, 2012 © Kent Sheely
SITUATION #34: Kent Sheely, DoD, 2009–2012
8 April – 22 May 2016
“The hunters have Hasselblads instead of Winchesters; instead of looking through a telescopic sight to aim a riﬂe, they look through a viewﬁnder to frame a picture.” Susan Sontag, On Photography
Since 2007, Kent Sheely has been working extensively at the intersection of video games and photography, often manipulating the game medium, “modding” its code and altering its mechanics to turn the gameplay into something else. In his work DoD, Sheely transforms the World War II themed game Day of Defeat: Source from a classic first person shooter game into a war photographer simulation platform. Appropriating the software and modifying its code, Sheely removed the avatar’s gun, stats and ammo, ultimately creating a non-combat role within the combat dynamics of the game. By replacing the “fire” button with a virtual shutter, the artist turns the game soldier into a virtual Robert Capa, saving screenshots of the digital war. The work raises issues of ambiguity between the real and the simulated, while exposing a thread that links shooting (a gun) with photographing (or shooting pictures) – intensified in the face of virtual war technology.