RND// In which you spent a year or more collating and editing images with what you term ‘that special shine’ – in other words “Hypertography: abstract conceptual images rendering strange the depthless virtual paradise of Global Videogame Capitalism (aka Ludocapitalism) – its hyperreal spectacle, its symbolic fiction and existential threat.” A ludic simulation:
That is, the threat of permanent, seemingly willing ‘funemployment’ – unceasing hard ‘playbor’ in the service of ‘ludocapital’; an exhibit expressing and highlighting such a state, ie. “Videogames ARE Capitalism.”
To consider a world wide Plato’s Cave of inherently and irredeemably impoverished virtuality, and its techno-culturally enforced epistemological legitimacy: where the act of videogaming actively stifles all critical imagination – that its ideological existence as an apparent new centre of ‘narrative gravity’ only truly allow for false elation and mute, one dimensional acceptance – a destitute, long abandoned Cartesian (desert) Theatre of fully automated, absurdly repetitive, uncomfortable anodyne numbness. A global ‘Dead MMO’.
Some Cyberpunk theory-fiction: looping, conflicting or logically inconsistent, borderline coherent, semi-philosophical fragments / obsidian volcanic (image) shards on and around this area / arena as follows. Fighting mirrors with smoke.
[..] the standardization of our environment, saturation of our consciousness by mass media, and local dislocations caused by the globalization of production have produced a new dominant consciousness: a postmodern schizo-fragmentation characterized by floating emotions, an inability to “organize [..] past and future into coherent experience”
~ (from) Partly Fragmented, Partly Integrated: An Anthropological Examination of “Postmodern Fragmented Subjects” by Claudia Strauss
To keep one fact foremost in mind – that the official (threatening) slogan of the Sony Hypercorporate Playstation 5 is “Play has no limits”. This is where we are now, our existential position – a permanent state of (Ludocapitalist) performance. Where even the people who make the games that play us like fools insidiously call themselves ‘Dream Architects’ pukes slightly in mouth
Come to Daddy
~ Jensen Huang, NVIDIA CEO
How can we keep on watching that fucking TV?
We’re so bored we don’t even care what we see
~ Eric Serra, It’s Only Mystery
Example images found in zip files:
- virtual-photography-exhibit-one-robert-what.zip (437.7MB)
- virtual-photography-exhibit-two-robert-what.zip (404.6MB)
Curated and edited via freelance Resident Internet Theorist Robert What. To consider this whole project as expression of ‘Big Science’. No Copyright / No Licence / Maximum R&D. Please Kopimi!
Smoking Snakes: The Mythical Origins Of Hypertography
To consider ‘smoking snakes’ a classic in-scene description regarding what modern Players / Researchers must of smoked, in order to produce such extreme (/hypertographic) images.
Example definition of Hypertography: “Coded symbolic abstractions of image hyperreality regarding virtual social relations – current contested conditions of digital mind seen via modern turbo spectacle; the visual rhetoric of a technological unconscious as synthetic salvation.”
Rather than a representation of virtual objects, consider such ‘Hypertography’ critical theoretical representations of Culturally manifest ideas concerning current, concretely objectified systemic virtualities. Electronic soldiers in a war for reality staring at a digital horse.
“Abstract Encounters” – Alternative Play Systems development concept:
Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting
~ Ivan Illich,1972
To consider “Abstract Encounters”: toward an informal, virtual, drop-in-and-design Play Systems research space and open game development concept / framework (v1.2)
♫ Slap, the blessed Gamedev
Because the games that they constantly make
Say nothing to me about my life.. ♫
~ paraphrasing Morrissey, Panic On The Streets Of Ludotown
A Game Systems Design Framework Or Approach
In the handling of Chaos, one must understand the art of the abstract. Being highly limited, all games are abstractions. Yet rather than being concerned with eg. primal geometric forms per se, one might consider encouraging neurally stimulating forms to appear that, by their abstract natures and contemplative fictional spaces, carry or indicate subtle / philosophical ideas
~ paraphrasing volume 10 page 44 of Art Criticism
While all games may be considered experimental systems, the term Abstract Encounters implies conceptual, somehow more mysterious and liminal psychological states and moods of Play, embodied and induced by evolving, open-ended ‘games’ with more truly Emergent properties.
It’s a little as if I were leading the reader to a deserted laboratory, and that I put a collection of specimens and all the necessary equipment at his disposal. It’s his job then to relate these elements together and create reactions from them
~ JG Ballard, interviewed by Robert Louit, 1974
To consider completely bypassing most conventional game practices, methods and institutions, in order to create odd, intensely abstract / ‘theoretical’ and unpredictable compositions, unfettered by traditional gaming (/industry) concerns.
The conclusion, then, is simple: it is possible to consider any of these games as the very first, for the birth of the video game is a pure abstraction, or a heuristic event, which depends on the premises one brings to it
~ Marco Benôit Carbone
‘Chance meetings with unexpected views of alternate worlds’:
Conceptual DNA of Abstract Encounters
I like systems that make use of the brain – the watchers brain – as part of the process. The notion of art not being a quality in things, but the name of a type of interaction between you and something, or you and an event. If you start thinking of it as an interaction, it frees you from a lot of aesthetic problems and you don’t have to decide whether something is or isn’t art. All you have to know is whether it does that for some people
~ Brian Eno, Imaginary Landscapes: A Film on Brian Eno 
Here are some possible / example conceptual elements underlying Abstract Encounters:
- Human centred design: experiences which complement human activity, rather than seek to dominate it.
- Traditional methods of game space design need to evolve faster – that is, on the fly, realtime.
- An emphasis on ‘play from the outset’, rather than the old false gamedev duality of ‘prototype vs. polished’.
- A need for simpler (virtual) gaming toolsets – see GMod’s Tool Gun.
- The feeling of non-teleological “Paida”.
- “Computers should do the heavy lifting”, ie. Procedural / Emergent everything: “If it looks like a computer made it, then why shouldn’t a computer actually make it?”, ie. a matter of more fully trusting computational aesthetics.
In terms of organizing production, most Developers still operate in a ‘Pre-Internet Mode’ (according to big AAAA Videogames Industry cat Gabe Newell.)
- “Realism Denies The Impossible”, that is encouraging experiences which could only happen in profoundly non-real / irreal spaces with oddly postmodern / hyperreal flavors; consider non-photoreal rendering.
- Term: “Carmack Inversal”: the inverse degree to which strictly ‘smart’ nerdy focus on technical development makes for philosophically challenging opportunities and delightfully unforseen play-potential.
- Term: “Technically Impressive Isn’t”: ie. stop showing off with your bullshit tech demos. We’re not so auto-impressed as we used to be. Where’s the Human Meaning among all these worthless shiny surfaces, dammit?
- In order challenge gaming conventions, one has to understand their ontological basis / bias.
- The subtle difference between games / systems that just ‘do weird’, andthose which more truly emanate strange / philosophical ideas andor moods.
- In which Game Studies / Critique – aka Ludology – has not resulted in any significant evolutionary gaming leaps, or even punctuated hops; perhaps this is because Game Criticism might be just another (/abstract) meta-Game layer (/of The AAAA Industry.)
- Meta-Gaming as Game: reconsidering all in-gamespace activities of Players as important, realtime elements / processes.
- Developer Robert Yang’s notion of “Tools, not values.”
- Too many video games feel arbitrarily different; their basic structural and stylistic elements almost randomly interchangeable – like Hollywood movies / stars.
- To make game spaces / game-like systems whose styles and modes and details are fully interchangeable and exchangeable at will – “The active creation of game types and modes suited to one’s immediate changing tastes” – “Games Just Waiting To Happen” ie. Play-By-Demand.
- Evoking moods and atmospheres rather than specific places; more direct congruity between hyper-stylization, and movement rules / game mechanics.
“Maps as Obsolete”: moving away from inherently Static maps to Dynamic (holistic) game-spaces where everything is ‘alive’ ie. usable and inter-related through feedback.
- To think in terms of ‘Scenes’ / ‘Scenarios’; a sense in which Maps are too often a mere backdrop for Action, when they could be another true dynamic play-space enabling Process.
- To onsider the Kobayashi Maru and individual, standalone Scenarios for Play.
- Feedback: the video game equivalent of a Centrifugal Governer.
- “Mutable Everything”: in which every in-play object / process is playable and can inter-act (/semi-expectedly.)
- “Primitive Extracts”: functional simplicity (akin to ‘functional strength’ in humans); not just what you have, but how it’s used – how much is actually usable to express meaning.
- “Looks nice.. but what can you do with it?” ie. less static, ‘dead untouchable museum (tech) exhibits’.
- Single rapidly sketched pieces of Concept Art by single artists usually contain more immediate interest, imagination and intelligence than entire games bloated with millions of dollars and as many lines of code; less concept art and more the art of Conceptual Gaming.
- The idea of sketching (Design) as direct Playing: artists that think like coders; coders that art.
- The development / emergence of elegant prototypes: S.I.S.I (‘sissy’): “Single Ideas, Simply Implemented.”
- Optimal play-space / systems development philosophy: the minimum number of core ideas / gaming axioms that provide more direct pathways between challenging, expressive play and players.
- To think in terms of near-immediate implementation or emergence of engaging play, rather than waiting years (years!) to develop unnecessary elaborations – especially art assets – and other allegedly essential, industry over-hyped ‘features’.
- Social Design As Play (“Galapagos”): the idea of the Editor as not separate from the (realtime) Game.
- The evolution of a ‘Visual Language’; gaming grammar; rapid prototyping of Ideas rather than just games (eg. ProBuilder or Future Perfect as metaphor.)
- To fully play with the more basic fundamentals of gaming communities as play expressions (??)
- Hot Coders Wanted: “It’s all in the Code” – C.A.D. “Computer Aided Daydreaming.”
- “Brian Eno” as the answer to every important question still not being fully asked eg. about Game Design (ie. “It’s all in the interface / at the surface”; a return – again – to cybernetic systems theory; of far less and more interesting / ‘alive’ options.
- “Turn up the janky quirkyness”: deliciously uncanny, uncertain, delightful.
- “Source=Open: a freeware attitude from the very outset; just because you’re online, doesn’t mean you’re truly sharing.
- “Holographics”: Transparency – truer Modularity – Exportability – Recycling – a sense of Infinity; all features and elements embedded into a ‘modeless game interface’.
- Decentering Players; a de-emphasis of the boring Human Form.
- ‘Maximum Fun’: decreasing the novelty-factor in favour of Disquiet.
- ‘Playspaces’ as improvisational theatre- inferring meaning-potential through semiotic game mechanics; Jonathan Blow’s “Dynamical Meaning.”
Dynamic gamespace elements for Abstract Encounters
- Notgames and altgames: sensitive social reasoning, not spatial reasoning.
- Controlling the Uncontrollable.
- Live Streaming / in-game internet cameras.
- Integrated Game Server Hosting as simple as uploading to LOLtube.
- Free-switching between personalities / viewpoints. Hypernovelty: ‘providing sensation through play’; a truer nonlinearity.
- “Strange Ongoing Relationships”; forced drama; the mis.relationships between the ‘characters’ / world-processes – incongruity between immediately perceived and internal meanings; programmable interlocking irrealist / absurdest narratives. A near absence of normal understanding / repeatedly re-undermining expectations.
- Feedback loops, potentiality and consequences: ‘eno-ambient’ slider bars; basically Generative-Everything; extreme sensitivity to initial starting (ie. ongoing) conditions.
- Decidedly Notreal ‘Physics’ / visual scripting as the game mechanic (like Source Filmaker); rather, make the /social spaces of video games Real.
- Summaries of on-screen action via Natural Language Processing – and visa versa, translating Words directly into Games / Play.
- To evoke feelings of an undefined presence of the past or of a larger world still to be discovered – eg. behold Elite: the beauty of entire universes on a 3.5″ floppy diskette:
[..] It was as though the world was unable to be set apart from the game. Just then your synthetic eyes encountered a field of digital wheat whose limits you could not see. That yellow vastness, dazzling in the artificial sun, bound up with the 8bit song playing in background, filled you with such joy that you wept. Homesick for unfamiliar places, you accessed your imagination garden and began to ‘continue making strange things appear as they are usually not’ – to fully remain in this irreality. It was the first appearance of those elements which were always present in later sensations of hyperreality: illimitable vastness, brilliant light, intense colors, and the shimmering, frictionless surface gloss of a disconcerting and profound immateriality
~ Paraphrased from “Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl” by M. Sechehaye
Videogames as they are however continue to exist unabated and unchallenged – their domination as Culture ever more colonially expansive with each passing moment. (Indeed, videogames are themselves are raw Cultural-Finance – the very thing which makes them problematic.) It’s not that the world has become a giant (darkly-laughably shit) AAAA videogame overnight, but rather that “because videogames” has apparently become the de facto mode of approaching or understanding the entire world. The prime sense-making processes. No other possibilities and priorities allowed – an apparently all encompassing model of understanding. Videogames über alles, a violently synthetic commonality – “We’re all Gamers in here!” Now what exactly is up with that shit?
The Spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life. The relation to the commodity is not only visible, but one no longer sees anything but it: the world one sees is its world. Modern economic production extends its dictatorship extensively and intensively
~ Guy Debord
In such a freakish situation – what is called ‘the experience economy’, perhaps videogame images always exist as oddly contextless. Modeless. Free floating signifiers, signifying that there’s nothing significant here being signified. In the same way as being in a car can means one is somehow ‘outside of the outside’, existing in a global state of Videogaming one is always on the outside, staring out at the outside. That is, we are continually displaced, despite being fixed in place – in the bizarre ‘third place’ (thanks, Sony Playstation) of Ludocapitalist Culture.
Virtuality; what happens when you let soulless white nerds loose on a planet’s imagination.
More scenes from The Video Real
Ideal / Idealized price for such a concept: £20M – contact Robert What today for details
Remixed screens of most excellent article about graphical realism – Parallax View by Real World Mag
Are Videogames Art? (Response: Is Art, Art?)
Videogame Reality As Basawood-Propped, Abandoned Movie Sets:
.Zip files of the main exhibit (1224 images total, .heic format. 1.8GB total):
“Did you get your precious photos?”
– roy batty, blade runner
1 [..] To consider “Hypertography: virtual photography, Ludocapitalist spectacle and its existential threat” – a project initiated via resident internet theorist Robert What, developer and player of strange imaginary game ‘Big Science’. Research base and larp workshop at http://www.robertwhat.com. Drop by today to chat about art, virtual photography and spectacle: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 [..] Some cyberpunk theory-fiction: looping, conflicting or logically inconsistent, borderline coherent philosophical fragments / obsidian volcanic (image) shards on and around this area / arena as follows. Fighting mirrors with smoke. Some duplicated arguments. This project is entirely free as in Beer and as in Freedom, and releases without any licence whatsoever, direct into the ‘libre public domain’. Please Kopimi! this hardcore sci fi project exists for the purposes of sociopolitical satire and cultural critique, and is covered by fair use doctrine.
3 [..] Note: such smart looking images are ideal for high quality videographic art poster printing – or simply rip em’ off, magically convert them into cosmically useless NFT’s – which greedy, to-the-moon cryptobros can then go stick up their blockchained arts.
4.[..] To paraphrase Borges: writing text to accompany an exhibit of virtual photography is a laborious and impoverishing act, expanding in five hundred pages bad ideas that could be perfectly explained away in a few minutes. A better procedure seems to simply pretend that such text already exists, and to offer a summary, a running commentary – which then runs head long, smack into the infinite wall of image, disintegrating along the perfectly sharp, one dimensional edge of its global digital performance / simulation.
5 [..] To paraphrase JG Ballard as interviewed by Robert Louit in 1974: “it’s as if i were leading the player to a laboratory, in which I’ve curated dangeous specimens, immense data sets and all the necessary equipment at their disposal. The role of the scientist then is to relate these bizarre elements together, and create new artistic reactions from them.”
6 [..] To consider completely bypassing most conventional practices, methods and institutions of the AAAA space, in order to create odd, intensely abstract / theoretical and unpredictable compositions, unfettered by traditional ludic (/industry) concerns.
7 [..] To consider ludographic spaces not merely something which occurs under Capitalism, but which are Capitalism, aka global hyperreal Ludocapitalism (Capitalism as play space; our world wide state of ‘ludofication’.) Abstract conceptual images, rendering strange the depthless virtual paradise of global videographic space Capitalism – its hyperreal spectacle, its symbolic fiction and existential threat. Physicist Erwin Schrodinger: “the task is.. Not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees” (or imagines they do.)
8 [..] How videographic spaces might be an existential threat to humanity in one word: Metaverse. An apt modern metaphor for Capitalism invading our very dreams. Here’s the resistance movement leader in obscure-cult TV series wild palms, talking about the evil senator and CSO of a global TV station (platform for global ludoludic): “Windows is nothing. A finger bowl for the entree. [sings] Ahh-mimezine grace, how sweet the sound.. Quite a package for the masses. You see, the senator needs energy for his final flight. All that business with the ‘go’ chip. He needs support. Like a king being held aloft by the minds of his minions. He is our Alexander. He will conquer the countries of our imaginations one by one. And we will dream him into infinity.” Who wants to boot up into hard playbor every day, just see that horrible, dead-eye’d Sugarborgian face, leering into your brain?
9 [..] To consider the bizarre internal logic and manipulative, self-serving mythology of virtual capitalist play. The horrible, seductive glowing promise of permanent, seemingly willing ‘funemployment’ – of unceasing, grinding ‘playbor’ in the service of Ludocapital. In the accompanying text for such an exhibit, try to cross Jean Baudrillard’s america style with Guy Debord’s Society Of The Spectacle – and a dash of JG Ballard’s Atrocity Exhibition. All through a nonlinear series of idea fragments (previously in lowercase, without paragraph full stops to engage with notions of polish and professionalism.)
10 [..] One reason for compiling this book / artistic image experience: you are a researcher of ‘big science’, suffering from acute existential boredom, and are on the lookout for artistic and intellectual validation from (still missing) peers, friends and fellow artists. You also constantly feel the itch to (somehow) become rich enough so you can shed the drab skin of your old life and feel you’re going somewhere – anywhere, except the flat, cardboard tasting nowhere of your lead dull, daily existence. How awesome it would be to have extensive resources, to finance a crew of fellow Researchers – to hang out and make cool / weird net-art projects which push the envelope and delight with techno-psychedelic intensity.
11 [..] In which you remembered something vitally interesting and more truly important you’d come across recently: the socio-political notion that ‘art exists to serve it’s community’. That it’s not really about you, unexamined notions of personal profit or fleeting fame – but about positive, critical community expression and collective artistic intent.
12 [..] But then, where’s this community you’ve been more actually seeking all these years? You’ve always imagined you’ve simply got to make your own community. Unless – how could you not have seen it before? (‘How can it not know what it is? ..commerce’.) Unless the Intertubes themselves were your real, virtual community all along? It’s complex, confusing. Most of the time, you just feel lost, alone and stuck with a folder of bizarre images without context, community, or meaningful communication.
13 [..] Wow, the sheer number of people and institutions you tried contacting, to generate any interest / hype whatsover in this project. What a total waste of goddamn time. Book publishers simply didn’t want to know (or were simply baffled by the very notion of ‘virtual photography’.) Despite prompting with carefully worded enthusiasm, major mainstream videographic websites didn’t care less – didn’t even email back to say ‘sorry, cool images but we’re not interested’. A note on this online pseudo-diversity https://www.seizethepress.com/2022/02/07/digital-publishing-and-the-infinite-now/
14 [..] You emailed and tried chatting to people on social media about this project, you talked with large art galleries and professional printers in Europe (hey, your loss) – nada; the big zip. Once again the grand result was sweet FA (as they say in the UK.) As usual, you felt you were merely ‘pissing into your own stale digital wind’. Oh, for even a passing sense of solidarity, shared interest or a willingness to minimally engage with (at least potentially interesting?) ideas in the face of all this.. deafening electronic silence.
15 [..] Perhaps if you were already rich-white and internet-famous enough – yeah then sure, there might already be interest and big investment in you and your art (ie. That you help curate, or discover.) Then you’d already have arrived on ‘The Scene’ with a default excess of Bourdieu-ian ‘cultural capital’ necessary to bankroll / hand-roll your own, ongoing fame and artistic fortune.
16 [..] The mere Capitalist idea that any artist through hard work alone can somehow pull themselves up by their bootstraps, levitate above the digital gutter and suddenly stop being a ‘temporarily embarrassed millionaire new-media internet star’ is a techno-romantic myth, perpetuated by those already born with a platinum internet connection up their arts. It’s an expensive cheap lie, which conveniently obfuscates the real fact wealth, status, even talent is often generated and socio-politically contextualized off the backs of others.
17 [..] On finding community images for the previous version of this exhibit. Valve’s community screenshot browser blows dead goats. It took you an hour or so after deleting your old flickr pro account to realize you did not have a backup of most of the images. Flickr pro did not make sempai notice you. So much for that old, ‘build it and they will come’ perfumed horse shit. (Would uploading ten thousand billion images of helped your social media credit status – and therefore your ongoing debts as an impoverished artist under Capitalism? Would it fuck. Some mothers got the game all sewn up from the very outset. The fix is in, player one and you’re just another postmodern research scientist whale to be micro-transactionally milked.
18 [..] All this concerted (/misplaced) effort, and you’re still in that cramped, frozen and airless suburban shoebox with a leaking radiator and silverfish under the sink. The invisible labor behind the production of such images almost always goes as unnoticed as the images themselves. All those countless solid months of carefully curating, resizing, polishing.
19 [..] When you first turned toward Valve’s BS ‘community’ screenshot browser before deciding to curate your own images. The glacial pace with which that browser refreshes new images at the bottom of the page makes you grind your teeth. (The best time to browse seems Saturday morning.) You always set it to ‘view most recent’, as ‘most popular’ contains the most predictable and generic screenshots – they often look like mainstream AAAA industry ‘bullshots’ – perfectly lit, perfectly poised and predictable. ‘Pure’ marketing, somehow willfully without substance.
20 [..] At the risk of sounding exactly like a reactionary right wing hater of (/modern) art, by contrast the majority of the digital art you’ve see online by ‘new media internet artists with gallery representation'(tm) are the biggest vacuous lumps of air headed rubbish ever witnessed by humanity. Actual adults with money, reputation and international recognition – throwing together the most overblown, affected toss unimaginable.
21 [..] You usually avoid the word pretentious as used by netizens to describe something they think gives off the perfume of pseudo profundity – since they themselves are often the ones being pretentious, and have but an ounce of the ability to pretend. That is, the art of imagination – for which nobody needs permission, or social verification. Or maybe just scratch the glimmering neon surface of this industry, and find yet another army of poverty stricken digital labourers, scrabbling for crumbs falling off the table (the poverty that is, of The Video Real i.tself.)
22 [..] In which most of the new media net art you’ve witnessed merely looks like retro 90s NFT vaporware, ie. Electro-plastic crap. Paper thin excuses for digital whatevers. Almost as though ‘being digital’ somehow automatically equates to ‘being good’ (or remotely meaningful.) And yet you feel so perfectly envious of such an insular, inward facing artistic universe – a utopia (non place) of eye rolling, ‘arty’ terminology; a language deliberately designed to keep away those not ‘part of the conversation’
23 [..] In which philosophically dubious, poorly communicated ideas meant to deliberately obfuscate the self importance of everyone involved (and somehow therefore justify the stupid, ugly prices such perfumed crap sells for on the open, legal international money laundering market. Willingly hypnotising rich morons out of their perpetuatingly-self-generating money.) Professional typefaces, slick graphic design, a ‘cool’ aesthetic – which is the the dark, spectral glow of a tv screen in an abandoned high tech production studio recently overrun by the flesh eating undead.
24 [..] Oh ‘white people, white wine and white walls’, if only you’d accept this pseudo-humble net performance artiste with open arms – he’d gladly air kiss his way through your private gallery showings of his ‘startling new graphical forms’, receiving his latest genius award grant with well practised humility, handing out digital conceptual anti-art manifestos on signed pages of silk printed bog paper – all while wearing a non-ironic black velvet beret at a jaunty, socially correct angle and casually / brazenly using a cigarette holder in public. Meanwhile, cute hipster artisan avocado millennials with short black hair admire him from a distance with slow burning sensual intensity.. Wakey wakey, Bob; time for another cold, stale slice of reality cake (yeah, but you do actually believe and want all that crap, dontcha.)
25 [..] You adore that scene in (conceptually doubtful and laughably overrated) movie tenet. It features a sweet ‘free trade zone’, ‘special economic zone’ or ‘free port’, which are often little more than tax avoidance havens and another form of economic colonialism. Likewise perhaps, videographic images are a key manifestation of videographic globalization, and scientists might consider using a postmodern ‘noclipping’ lens to symbolically research such zones – bizarre regimes producing our modern neoliberal subjectivities (an framework of bad ideas which blinkers our view of such spaces, inherent limits on understanding them.)
26 [..] You seriously half considered uploading these images to one of those dreadful ‘print random digital stuff on anything’ websites in order to (at least potentially) make some quick hard ca$h. You’re all too aware however of digital sharecropping by such parasitical middle-men companies, who exist only to commodify online labor, skimming the lion’s share of the profits off an underpaid and unprotected workforce. (Hmm, why do ‘Patreon’ and ‘Valve’ suddenly spring to mind?) That is, the nets exist only to truly serve those with the power to network successfully, to maintain what they understand is always already theirs.
27 [..] Thing is you’re donkey stubborn, if not necessarily talented – not that talent alone ever automatically got overlooked online artists anywhere, except exactly nowhere. And so you went ahead with this project anyway. From nowhere, to nowhere; the feeling that there was never really anywhere but nowhere to go, and nothing but very little to say. (One is reminded of what TV presenter Tony Wilson said in a 2007 documentary on Joy Division: “Every other band that night was on stage, because they wanted to be on stage – they wanted to be rock stars, they wanted to be in the music business. But this lot were on stage, because they had no fucking choice.”)
28 [..] Screenshot what you will and post it, say what you feel like about it – just don’t try to make any of our (the Videographic Space Industry’s) dirty money. Shout about how much you love, hate or feel indifferent to videographic space, it won’t matter; just stay silent on the dirty subject of Ludocapitalism, and any infinitesimally thin and miserable slice of the AAAA dung pie one might somehow earn as a result of all this often fruitless ‘art-as-work’. “But Bob, you’re supposed to be a real artiste(tm) – they’re supposed to be poor, and not want anything to do with money – right? isn’t that ‘selling out’?” Oh, you equally disadvantaged, massively exploited, dangerously naive fellow traveller of the rocky art-path; kindly walk with me a weary digital mile in these worn, artistic-labor shoes before ye judge too harshly.
29 [..] In which the first rule of the internet (or at least one in the top ten) appears to be ‘nobody gives a shit.’ That is, ‘what hot new clickworthy eyeball kick do you bring to my virtual table.. (before i continue scrolling down / left and instantly forget you, like the end of The Truman Show)’? The result of such constant, invisible pressure is that internets positively encourage, ie. Ideologically blackmail netizens to be or act ever increasingly outrageous, odious, ‘cringe’ and extreme in their efforts to get that holy upvote, or some miserable fucking blue tick – to have sempai (/Musk) notice them.
30 [..] One might at some point also conclude that the internet only exists because our species is incredibly lonely – but then i.t merely ends up making our wider, deeper sense of existential isolation and alienation worse. (You personally feel utterly alienated from the wilfully insular hole of ultra elitist (read: Whipepo) art, and all the arts-kissing luvvies and po-faced dahlinks which populate it). Unironically however, such images as the ones in this exhibit and their barren, people free landscapes are also pretty goddamn alienating. ‘There’s just no there, there’, merely an impenetrable estrangement from their technologically perfected binary projection.
31 [..] You’ve no actual idea, but the global art market formula seems to go like this, with each long jump down being smaller in amount of difference of prestige: fine art > Damian Hurst > art > banksy > photography / new media net art > NFT’s > videographic art. Wow, imagine existing on the rung below the digital NFT sewer. You’re not sure, but there seem parallels between the current state (2022) of videographic space art, and the societal status of science fiction in the mid 70’s to mid 80’s regarding the so-called ‘sci fi ghetto’. (videographic spaces however, despite the wishes and illusions of their developers, only truly ever appear to express the strictly Ludocapitalist values of the global marketplace.)
32 [..] In what simply first appear as just another set of random images online, suddenly feels indicative of a wider and deeper ongoing ((/artistic) /class) struggle in the massively fragmented online community. So / yet here you are again, putting in those long empty lockdown hours – putting it all out here, vainly hoping it sticks long enough for anyone to appreciate any of it, and-or toss a dime in your general direction, one day. Thing is baby, you’re already deep in Capitalist territory of the virtual; you’re on your own among the zeros and ones, with only the strange, indifferent glow of videographic screens to guide you among these monolithic ruins.
33 [..] In which what seems truly strange about the word ‘strange’ is the truer degree of its actual normalization into some (digital) thing not remotely strange at all, but rather deeply intimate, internalised – and therefore almost totally repressed, ignored, sidelined, undiscussed. Now long since global videographic images feel this type of strange (In fact they’re so global, they’re our entire universe – very much ‘their own thing’ from which we can only ever peer out from, a protective transparent glass data bubble.)
34 [..] Videographic spaces seen in this book / exhibit: Doom 3, Doom Eternal, Counter Strike Source, Left 4 Dead 2 and Mods, Half Life 2 and Mods, Serious Sam 4, Black Mesa, Quake 4, Quake 1 Remastered and Mods, G-String, Killing Floor 2, Syndicate (2010), The Evil Within 2, Garry’s Mod maps, Infra, Rage, Total Chaos Director’s Cut, Gta Vice City, Metroid Prime. Other virtual photographs of playspaces you’d like to see Noclipped and Freecammed next In 4K: Mirror’S Edge Catalyst, Portal and Mods, Hitman Series, Deus Ex Series, Gta 5, Death Stranding. You’ll definitely need a new pc and colour accurate monitor for this next stage of the project, however; your old box of chips is currently held together with caked dust, and rapidly overheats at anything over 1920×1080.
35 [..] What does one see here at first glance? Thing is, there may not be any ‘first glance’ – only techno-historical contingency, and its resulting socio-psychological influence on the neurological process of seeing itself. As others have stated, we don’t see things as they are, but rather only as we are – our species’ internal models of reality, which are culturally encoded to a significant degree. As these odd, often confused creatures of advanced technological abstraction, we take (already cooked) materials – zeros and ones for instance – and process them further into regular, standard, seemingly understandable shapes, spaces, bizarre social mis-relations, misunderstandings. A shorthand ‘visual language’ for landscapes emerging out of the modern, postmodern technological imagination.
36 [..] Hey, all this sounds like something cool, vague / artistic a visitor might read – text in a little square, adjacent to a large, museum quality giclee print of ‘your work’ in a nice, poreless, air conditioned white cube gallery with corporate cyborg security, hi-rez webstreaming cams for offsite subscribers and sophisticated little 1-calorie french nibbles on designer neon coloured cocktail sticks.
36 [..] ‘At first glance’: in which one feels it might be difficult for someone unaccustomed to the notion of videographic spaces to easily and immediately recognise what exact class or kind of images are displaying themselves here. (Sunning themselves like psychotic biomechanical cats.) The images feel quite diverse in art style, and cannot be easily categorised in terms of how exactly they were produced. For the ever decreasing number of modern postmodern netizens who do not play in or with videographic spaces (ie. who are not subject to the troubling existential terms imposed by global hyperreal Ludocapital), they might suggest such images are ‘some kind of abstract art?’, but not obviously and immediately generated via computers; perhaps they’re highly technical paintings of the kind seen in the 70’s (hyperreal art), or some modern form of ‘photoshopped’ architectural montage?
37 [..] What all these images appear to have in common, if anything: that they’re all spaces of some kind, if not actual (virtual) ‘places’, possibly suggesting (weird) explorable locations – with their own backstory and underlying narrative, explaining their existence. Or maybe not; maybe the viewer / consumer sees little in common among any of them. Flicking through them as through a photographic book of lost or abandoned memories, perhaps the notion of story or background narrative context feels stripped away, if not entirely absent. What’s left then is all there was from the outset; mere coloured pixels in a set, ill-defined order. In this scenario or ‘final approach to The Video Real’, story perhaps is obsolete, unnecessary; only ‘that special shine’ of the spectacle of their mere presentation (projection into the mental space of the viewer) is important, uppermost.
38 [..] To imagine if the viewer of such images would even wonder ‘why are some of the walls missing?’, and not just take at face value the unusual (mostly isometric?) viewpoints, the specific photographic angles taken at or toward ‘the subject matter’ (whatever on virtual earth that is.) It’s hoped they might pick up on the repeated absence of buildings and walls that are common in everyday images of the world; except this is the new real world, and while most of the old rules still apply, they’re somehow appear radically transfigured – even broken, a stilted parody. Elements within the frame appear as though projected or stuck upon two dimensional sheets; such sheets often appear to overlap, intersect at odd angles, interpenetrate, clash. This is vitally important, and though you’re hard pressed to say exactly why, it’s got something to do with seeing – reality – physics – and the bizarre philosophical implications arising.
39 [..] In which one more precise and accurate meaning of such ‘noclip’ virtual photography is that i.t can have no meaningful meaning; they can be interpreted philosophically, meaning can be easily ascribed – but none of it sticks. The flat, two-dimensional fact of their online existence entirely bypasses all attempts at human and human-scale meaning, humanisation, fixing in a politically viable and sustainable social context. What is the implication them of such a bizarre situation? it is perhaps as theorist Jean Baudrillard stated – that we’re already living in ‘the desert of the real’. That what we imagine as reality is precisely and simultaneously virtual, or freely exchangeable with the virtual, because i.t now all simply cannot be lived outside the electronic imagination (of Ludocapitalist spectacle.)
40 [..] Out here, out this far, at this late a stage, it’s all the freezing digital outside. Such images are hollow signs of passing, empty floating signifiers, a ‘strange imaginary playspace’ of colourful (violent) appearances. A long dead media star performs on stage before fans, an undead hologram devoid of life, soul, or memory. Of course, this is all a fanciful, high falutin’ load of hyperbolic cobblers – which is perhaps to say, the modern language of videographic spaces is tautological, and incompressible down into ordinary language.
41 [..] One can only reply to videographic images with yet-more videograpihc images, much in the same way those online who ‘speak in memes’ can only really replied to memetically, in image-macro shorthand (for actual meaning.) If an image is worth a thousand mere words, images which appear interactive and ‘fun’ are worth countless billions to an unchecked hypercorporate industry which eats everything before it; people’s time, their energy, their vitality, their dreams.
42 [..] Notice how there’s no such thing as a perfect gaming monitor? that it’s either too small, too slow, there’s a little too much blurring, ghosting or overshoot, no backlighting or lousy hdr implementation, or its not color accurate and the light falls off at the edges – or if its fast enough, it still uses a slow bandwidth connector or 8bit dithering, or its got great overall specs but is ridiculously expensive, or a generally unreliable brand – or even if its allegedly perfect, there’s a 1% better and bigger screen coming out next month?
To consider that fomo – ‘the fear of missing out’ – is more actually the (already fully realized) fear one has already missed ‘the real’ entirely, and has long been a totally korporatized hungry ghost, wandering Ludocapitalism’s global dead MMO server of useless videographic images in search of their own mind and human soul. Where the on screen message ‘you died – sucker’ actually means you’re already dead inside, existing in the electrified ruins of a dying planet because its idiot space-monkey offspring were too busy playing to care for its / their health.
43 [..] And yet, the standard boilerplate psychic mantra of the AAAA videographic spaces industry still very much applies here (in the way an officious rubber stamp is violently applied): “It’s just videographic, chill.” (It’s like that old horror movie trailer, where the voiceover guy says “Keep telling yourself – it’s just a movie, it’s just a movie..”) Such a statement is in fact little but a wilful ‘injunction to enjoy’, a cultural wide gaslighting, actually terrified that the videographic might be – as the mantra itself nakedly suggests – no more or less than whatever the hell i.t is in / as reality; some freakish digital nonthing – vast, unknown, sublime, monstrously unfathomable in common (consumerist) terms.
44 [..] For a split second, the bright screen reflects back our own artificial natures, and it takes the most strained and painful of fake consumer smiles to continue convincing ourselves we can bare what we see. (When in fact, perhaps we don’t see; that seeing itself blinds us, and videographic spaces only ever watch us instead). And so we balance on a razor edge of beautiful gfx, frozen by fear masquerading as public enjoyment. Theorist Baudrillard: “Immense energies are deployed to hold this simulacrum at bay, to avoid the brutal desimulation that would confront us in the face of the obvious reality of a radical loss of meaning.” (Sow, that sounds heavy and dangerous – an existential threat worth being attentive about.)
45 [..] What seems most expressed here is the ecstasy of Ludocapitalist communication – that is, communication of the proud fact of its global domination. Such visual overstimulation is obscene; everything exposed to the harsh and inexorable light of information – and in doing so becomes an intolerable, nihilistic ontology of virtual play, abstracted and rationalised precisely by the separation which establishes it in its obscene equivalence to its own dominance. (That is, the classic, closed neoliberal market formation-loop ‘what exists is good, because it exists’. And through such a process of seeing / playing, we ourselves become ungrounded, weightless.)
46 [..] A vast, transparent ‘apparency’.. An uncanny phantasmagoric demon of images what taunts us with its coolness, its efficiency, the slick intangibility of endless appearance, the absolute imposed proximity of the virtual, unconscious on-screen thing (the Freudian-Lacanian das ding, outside ordinary language.)
47 [..] There’s a chance we merely see ourselves in these images – lost souls of fragmentation, isolation – seemingly tabula rasa, ahisorical, no past or future but only a supremely cut off, eternal present. A frozen digital nothingness without depth, an instance shard – which seems another way to say (Big Scientific) simulation. Despite the apparently endless joys and synthetic freedoms offered by hypercorporate weasel term ‘interactivity’, something is being tested out here by an unknown force – our own human artificial intelligence, perhaps – and we are the often willing yet perfectly unconscious test subjects.
48 [..] In which you thought you were going to breeze through the writing for this exhibit, but instead feel supremely blocked and bereft. And-or maybe you have little but ideas (That is, a large folder of cosmically useless images; precious virtual photos.) This blockage and burn out however feels related to the months spent getting this project together, post processing such images one by one in the free program ‘Gimp’ – at times so intensely boring and drawn out a process you wept internally, idly fantasizing about having a slick coterie of hot new media internet artists to serve your needs for mass mundane digital image processing.
49 [..] These are just a few of the steps taken for each of these images to varying degrees and iterations: resize if necessary to 3840 x 2160, auto white balance, chromatic abberation, local contrast enhance, local normalization, octave sharpen, ‘filmic’, ‘polaroid’ and ‘fuji’ filters, illustration look, crush with mozjpeg, then stupidly decide denoise and compress again before going back to the old set.. Uselessly tinkering for solid weeks on end. The point of all this (digital art-labor) was not to radically change a shot into something it wasn’t ‘originally’ (despite being entirely simulated from the outset) but to bring out and further enhance a particular hyperreal quality of postmodern surface spectacle – something you term ‘that special shine’.
50 [..] For reasons unfathomable, you kept on getting consistently dark images in all playspace using Source engine. Whether this was a bad combination of Nvidia GPU + AMD processor andor Ubuntu OS was unknown. Just that pressing F12 in playspace or print screen almost always resulted in overly dark images, whose gamma curves you’d have to manually adjust. A monumental pain. Most solutions brightened the overall picture with its crushed black tones by 5-10% at the most, and external standalone screenshot screen capture software was equally useless. Linux often sucks for virtual photography, since most of the cheats needed to noclip and freecam through a particular playspace space only run under windows. Most older mods only work under windows as well. In this regard, ‘When it comes to teh virtual photographic haxx, Windoze is more leet than Linux.’
51 [..] In which the phrase’ in-game photography’ reminds one of ’embedded journalist’ – representative of a high tech media wing of the war machine, whose job is it to send back precisely controlled propaganda and ideologically sanitised soundbites from the front lines, not necessarily always making the invading or imperial forces look good – but certainly never bad, or genuinely critical of the truer, underlying causes of conflict. The same kind of process goes for in playspace ‘photo modes’ designed by the AAAA industry, which merely encourage player-consumers on the front line of the reality war (which Ludocapitalism won years ago) to take in-ludospace snapshots and distribute (propagandize) them via social media (also owned by weasels), thereby drumming up support for inherently evil cyberpunk hyper-corporations and their brain eating digital produce. All as common and ubiquitous in their insipid vapidity as stale, depressed cheese burgers – as perfectly interchangeable and forgettable as engine parts (or blandly handsome movie stars). All hail the world wide ludographic copypasta.
52 [..] To consider a world wide Plato’s Cave of inherently and irredeemably impoverished virtuality, and its techno-culturally enforced epistemological legitimacy: where the act of ludovideo actively stifles all critical imagination – that its ideological existence as an apparent new centre of ‘narrative gravity’ only truly allow for false elation and mute, one dimensional acceptance – a destitute, long abandoned Cartesian (desert) Theatre of fully automated, absurdly repetitive, uncomfortable anodyne numbness. A global ‘Dead MMO’ with a disquieting and pervasive ambient emptiness. Researcher Claudia Strauss: “The standardization of our environment, saturation of our consciousness by mass media, and local dislocations caused by the globalization of production have produced a new dominant consciousness: a postmodern schizo-fragmentation characterized by floating emotions, an inability to organize [..] past and future into coherent experience.” – (From) partly fragmented, partly integrated: an anthropological examination of postmodern fragmented subjects.
53 [..] ‘That special shine’ is the shine of what you term ‘The Video Real’. It’s the videographic photography equivalent of the beautiful, deadly, physics-based glow of Cherenkov Radiation Blue. In a cool documentary about movies, fellow Researcher Zizek said he wanted a third pill which would allow him to see, not the reality behind the virtual, but rather the unique reality in the virtual itself. This perhaps is The Video Real. Its own thing – which really isn’t, rather mostly a desperate expression of digital art-labor by unknown armies of underpaid and non unionized AAAA videographic space wage slaves, grinding away on multiple year long ‘crunch’ projects, while tech-bro ceo artholes stroll past and (no exaggeration) fart on their heads. Ludographics! Who doesn’t love em (ie. Is there any free, radical soul left?)
54 [..] To keep one fact in mind – that one official (threatening) slogan of the Sony hypercorporate Playstation was “play has no limits”. This is the ‘3rd nonplace’ where we are now, our existential position – a permanent state of (Ludocapitalist) performance. Where even the people who make the virtual objects that play us like fools insidiously call themselves ‘dream architects’ pukes slightly in mouth. Such spaces are not our friends, but rather Zuckerbergian data parasites which suck out our dreams through our media glazed eyes and play them back at us – as ourselves, transformed and mutated into hyper-consumerist droids.
55 [..] Remember: while despicable inhuman CEO Bobby ‘just play the objective’ Kotick (“Activision Blizzard has always been about inspiring play, competition, and community for our fans and employees, and that hasn’t changed”) actually exists, no Squeaker who ever repeatedly screamed racist epithets down a cheap mic while waiting in an ‘XPOX’ CODBLOPS lobby ever cared two bits. Rinse and repeat; virtuality uber alles. “The world can go to techn0-hell; just make sure my fave map is up next. FFA, b1tch.”
56 [..] A little known ludic fact: if you climb up certain towers in AAAA video franchises and zoom in on a nearby luxury toilet, you’ll see that greasy fat pig Kotic doing a Korporate Goatse right in your too often wilfully native ludic prosumer face. You are nothing to the global AAAA videographic spaces industry; it certainly hates its employees and treats them like expendable dirt.) And now with the treat of blockchains and spits ‘play to earn’, we are now entirely Ludofied employees of that industry of dark digital dreaming.
57 [..] To consider a working (arting?) example definition of ‘Hypertography’: “Coded symbolic abstractions of image hyperreality regarding virtual social relations – current contested conditions of digital mind seen via modern Ludocapitalist spectacle; the visual rhetoric of a technological unconscious as synthetic salvation.” Rather than a representation of virtual objects, consider such Hypertography critical (theoretical) representations of culturally manifest ideas concerning current, concretely objectified systemic virtualities. Electronic soldiers in a war for reality, smoking snakes (??) while staring idly at a digital horse burning brightly on a middle-distant hill of deep, deliberately-retro lcd green.
58 [..] Meta-photographic views that seem strange, despite their already-existing state of photographic strangeness. (this is what ‘rendering strange’ means in the definition of Hypertography.) Yet, to consider the sense that the mere existence of the very on-paper notion of ‘videographic spaces’ somehow already means common, everyday reality is obsolete – andor already far more uncanny / alien than ever suspected.
59 [..] In which you’d spent and-or wasted several years pretending you’d developed an obsession with a specific aspect of videographic space images you thought you’d discovered, or identified. (Perhaps you’d merely given an arbitrary name to this quality – ‘Hypertography’ – that many had probably considered before; that rather than adventurously carving out or identifying some new artistic space, you’d merely made the mistake of treading over ground already know by others with more skill and subtlety – stating you’d made some important, vague intellectual / artistic discovery.)
60 [..] On the first iteration of this project: you eventually found yourself (/burdened?) with over 10k carefully curated and edited images which you then uploaded on flickr, along with links to a gallery essay. A whole year later, and these images had only received mere handful of views, and no comments whatsoever. Due to this deafeningly silent onslaught of total violent intellectual and artistic apathy, you ended up deleting your account and retreating back into the postmodern electronic void. (To note the deadpan irony of wanting previously invisible images to be seen, yet their remaining forever unseen, by anyone. Not even passing bots, bored A.I or the net hive mind itselves). Kinda like those desperately sad ‘zero view’ videos on LOLtube, they symbolically hint at the actual poverty of the wired Ludocapitalist universe (indeed, you’d go as far as to suggest the whole of reality itself is utterly devoid of nothing but virtual life.)
61 [..] Possible hypertographic research notes for this study / exhibit:
- Digital anthropology / art research
- Where code meets representation
- 80s action movie videographic montage
- Cardboard potempkin village movie sets
- Zizek’s incomplete reality / ontological gap
- Long abandoned ancient future virtual ruins
- Expansive data array up from basement archives
- Nth dimensional interventions / windows into ‘now’
- Brings to mind lab based security monitors, product presentation videographic walls, cellular facets of insect eyes, photographic contact sheets
- A succession of absurdist images too rapid to neuro-psychologically acclimate to
- Considering modern art forms in terms of principles of insufficiency, not just in terms of descriptive or theoretical or foundational historical perspectives; to construct post aesthetic scenarios based on informal social lifestyle matrices
- Existence of consciousness in the universe as a consequent dimension of reality, a force able to shape material life, rapidly integrating at the cosmological level; whose stated mis-aim is to describe the universe of modern play. Where such b.s (big science) theory and it’s substantial global non systemic framework blends with hyper-dimensional physics to unground such modelling
62 [..] Example theoretical research references for this project (mostly unread by Robert What):
- Susan Sontag – On Photography
- Marc Auge – Non-Places
- Paul Virillo – Vision Machine
- Sean Cubitt – Digital Light
- John Mullarkey – Bergson And The Art Of Immanence
- Vilem Flusser – Towards A Philosophy Of Photography
- Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida: Reflections On Photography
- Buckingham & Willett (Eds) – Media Technology And Everyday Creativity
- Andrew Darley – Visual Digital Culture
- Giuliana Bruno – Surface Matters Of Aesthetics, Materiality, And Media
- William Mitchell – The Reconfigured Eye
- Nicholas Zurbrugg (Editor) – Jean Baudrillard, Art And Artefact
63 [..] In which, what’s more actually virtual about virtual photography is that it arrives from a (non) place of spectacle, of raw (always fully cooked) industrial grade Hype(tm) – of seriously substance free illusion forcibly made real (ie. Enforced, policed via Ludocapitalist culture.) Where the digital pervades the physical to such an extent, that identifying clear distinctions between the two seems all but impossible. Where the simulated environments of videographic spaces illustrate the often frictionless interchangeability between the virtual and the super-mundane everyday. To considers that videographic spaces have long been the new normal. Never mind what the question is, apparently the new answer is always and now only “Ludocapitalism!”
64 [..] Theorist Baudrillard: “Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation.” Likewise perhaps, such virtual photographs are uniquely appealing, precisely because their barren, souless sterility reminds us of the terminal boredom of the places we inhabit daily – places made equally abstract, through functioning only as circuits in a matrix of global capital. That is, our daily world is always already a desert, a dead and long abandoned MMO server, only fit for hungry ghosts to endlessly wander, endlessly t-bagging each other for something to do. The poverty of our everyday pseudo-existence is simultaneously perfected, and made entirely invisible through videographic play.
65 [..] To consider photography as always already virtual, in the sense that technology is decidedly not some neutral(tm) tool, but a bizarre outgrowth of the mentally skewed (military-industrial-scientific-complex) imagination. Parallel to the way that the uncomplicated act of (say) ‘taking a cookie’ from a jar on a shelf involves a entire language of interlocking skeletal and muscular coordination and imaginative desire, the act of ‘taking a photograph’ from a landscape depends upon a whole industrial culture and cultural mindset. An encompassing worldview. Yet what is taken or removed from us when we take a photograph – exactly whose desires do we imagine we’re enacting (if not that of ‘our’ techno-culture?)
66 [..] What do we automatically and unthinkingly assume in the innocent photographic act? What exactly is being swapped out, replaced or displaced, every time the (/Western) photographic gaze ‘shoots’ something? Perhaps it’s the fantastic image that we give up for (whatever it is we think is) The Real – ie. To actually keep ‘the real’ at a safe symbolic distance. To consider the photographic act as a bizarre symbolic exchange, which creates and sustains our (white, Western, techno-scientific) sense of the real (whatever that might consist of.)
67 [..] Videographic spaces as a new symbolic form of subjectivity challenge ideas of what an image is, and in the process change our sense of orientation to (hyper-corporate funded and enabled) play – our embodied relation to simulated environments, where we now float and glide – spirits, spectral phantasmagoria suspended in post cyberpunk hypercorporate data. As fellow researcher Zizek states, however – we don’t have the real, and the obstacle [eg. Ludographic image -Rob] which makes the real impossible. Rather the real is the obstacle itself.
68 [..] In which videographic space images often seek to mirror (or at least parody) the real world, precisely because ‘the real’ is the only thing actively preventing players ascending fully into the excessive virtual fantasy world offered via videographic spaces. Yet the ‘real’ to which they refer often seems already virtual, hyperreal – already lost in the public (global) act of its interactive presentation.
69 [..] To consider that the symbolic images of ‘Hypertography’ cuts into the smooth facade of The Video Real, creating divisions, gaps – sucking it into the cultural symbols used to describe it, and thereby (at least potentially) annihilating it, cancelling it out; what’s left is what was (not) there to begin with – a vast ‘Terra Nullius’.
70 [..] Professor Gil Germain, writing in Spirits In The Material World: The Challenge Of Technology: “By accentuating excessively the foreignness of the real, by emphasising what distinguishes humanity from reality, the responses to the reality problematic offered by the principals of this study run the risk of overcorrection. They too strictly identify the real with what is other than human, and the human with what is other than real. The propensity to over-correct is most evident with Derrida, Baudrillard, and Lyotard, who go to considerable lengths to show that reality is either inaccessible, radically alien to codes of human behaviour, or a threat to our very existence as a species. Even Virillo, who is less culpable in this regard, shows up the uncanniness of reality in underscoring its supernatural origins.”
71 [..] Glancing over these so-called hypertographic images, the average research scientist / ludographic player sees nothing special in them. In one sense this non-reaction appears entirely correct. Some images display graphical glitches or semi-amusing, in-playspace chance occurrences or juxtapositions of various kinds (‘chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella’), while many show uncommon but otherwise unremarkable ‘off map’, ‘freecam’ or ‘noclip’ perspectives. Very little that untold internet-night armies of players haven’t seen literally billions of times before. (Perhaps you were merely imagining and-or projecting your odd televisual desires onto video’s global screen?) Or maybe that’s the point: perhaps such ‘hypertographic’ images appear undecidable – always poised between meanings. A (raised cognitive-existential) bioelectric potential, like the sweaty dopamine high felt by loot box gamblers – a permanent suspension (also as in ‘suspenseful’.)
72 [..] Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said: “We find certain things about seeing puzzling, because we do not find the whole business of seeing puzzling enough.” The virtual photography of videographic spaces, while not really a puzzle to be solved, nonetheless both represents and catalyses a unique philosophical itch deep within us; in repeated exposure to such ‘Hypertography’ we secretly ask ourselves, not just ‘is the reality before me real’ but also ‘what exact kind of reality is this, anyhow?’
73 [..] Yet, to consider that what makes videographic spaces and their images interesting is precisely the ‘unreality of their unreality’. How does Hypertography help shed much needed dark light on the happy light (‘lite’) of ultra-modern, hyper-computerised ludic? Perhaps to travel beyond the edge of what is currently observable (cognitively allowed) – to break through the artificially imposed ‘horizon of our videographic understanding’
74 [..] One looks around at the terminally boring lives of billions of deeply unhappy people, and the truly horrible economic system of infinite destructive useless data they’ve generated, and one wonders “What does it all mean – where are we all going exactly with all this digital stuff?” Nowhere is the answer, player; straight to the digital void from where we started out. If a horrible flesh eating undead form suddenly tore through the projected paper-thin screen of our lives and tried try to suck our brains out through our eyes, perhaps that might shock us out of the simulation imposed by global Ludocapitalism. But then, what is one to do when we are the willing zombies, continually breaking back into the matrix like a traitor, precisely in order to maintain our current, delightful level of zoned-outness?
75 [..] It’s not that white dystopian AAAA hyper-corporate Capitalist videographic culture doesn’t need extensive reform, but that it exists in the same way that asking, eg. “Do women belong in the military?” entirely and precisely fails to answer more pressing and vital questions as, “-Does anyone?” Rather, these very aspects represent its highly conservative character, defined in its very code, ie. the technocratic system of scientific rationality and logic underpinning their very existence.
76 [..] While necessary and possibly essential yet loose talk by ‘Ludonauts’ such as ‘queering videographic spaces’ too often fails to positively emphasise what’s already uniquely strange and potentially psychedelic about play – and especially play outside videographic spaces; indeed if they were truly queer, than would they even be videographic? (Why does everything have to be about Ludocapitalist space anyway? Why are games this impossible-to-transcend existential baseline? To paraphrase Mark Fisher: ‘It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of the interactive virtuality matrix of modern play.’
77 [..] What with Anthropogenic climate change (ie. destruction) and the ever increasing demands of the Videographic Space Industry for electricity and conflict minerals, virtual play space and the end of the real / world are rapidly meeting at a catastrophic nexus-node. We feel free to play or not play, conveniently forgetting that daily as-lived social reality is already structured Ludo-Capitalistically, as a miserable little mobile experience with microtransactions; a dangerous existential gamble masquerading as a mere idle hobby, in which the house always wins.
78 [..] Any medium that’s seemingly able to successfully and effortlessly express the character wishes and fantasies of anyone who currently commands it, is not to be trusted. Better representation of an ever wider spectrum of people and viewpoints does not in any mitigate the essential need to sit (and keep sitting, forever) in front of a (global) screen with one’s forever easily pleased space-monkey brain permanently shifted into neutral. Soaking in all that useless background image-radiation, leftovers of the big bang of virtuality itself. Freelance amateur postmodern internet theorist ‘Robert What’ has been watching / been watched by screens of all kinds most of his life, and is in no way essentially smarter, richer or happier than when he begun. RGB garbage in, and out.
79 [..] Whatever the hell’s currently blaring away on a TV in a by-the-week roach motel by the side of the post-apocalyptic media highway to nowhere could not care less about the viewer. (In fact television and its playspaces never seem happier than being alone in an empty room.) The ability to plug in a controller into the almighty box standing before one as some future-ancient hypercorporate monolith does not make it, or ‘player one’ any smarter – indeed, the added feature of holy ‘interactivity’ only ever signifies one has fully succumbed to the dumb logic of the machine, to the always already heavily codified and policed language of Ludocapitalistic play-spectacle.
80 [..] To consider videographic spaces as irredeemable, precisely because the synthetic nature of images per se is merely to exist without meaning – andor with any ascribable meaning whatsoever. What only seems to matter is their unceasing proliferation, their endless and violently automatic replication. The only real story videographic spaces can tell humans is the myth that ‘just shut up and keep playing’ is in their own best interests. (But then what if that story is the real – virtual – one they actually want to believe in? OK, escaping from reality one can understand easily enough – but than how does one escape from the modern globalized corporate virtuality that is ‘escaping from reality’?)
81 [..] To consider the ideological complicity of modern Ludographic space critics. In which they (and not merely reviewers) too often seem hopelessly, laughably inept at discussing the videographical – because they’re already fully inside one. Welcome then to the lost ‘planet of the ludonauts’. As Groucho Marxism states – ‘i wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member’. Oh, what a small-potatoes existence is it to be a Ludospace Critic – indeed, what is it one also describes while describing a playspace? What is the playspace one also plays while ‘playing a space’? How is one already ‘being played’ by the one apparently critiques? What does it mean to be ‘Ludonautical’ – to what truer extent is being a Ludonaut a dramatic stage show for one – parallel to the way a ludic experience is often a stage for an unfolding, darkly absurdist play?
82 [..] To consider a random backwater blogger, composing arbitrary thoughts on the troubled / troubling rise of the modern videographic play critic or ‘Ludologist’. Watch as they soon realise there’s little to say about this phenomenon of digital culture – arguably just a tiny literary offshoot of the AAAA videographic play industry as a whole (/hole.) Instead, they attempt to think around the subject – to evoke, rather than describe such odd creatures – alone on their small planet, spinning (sometimes merrily) through the depthless electronic labyrinth. They try defining a term – ‘Ludonautical’: of, relating to, or characteristic of imaginary playspace vessels, online (virtual) playspace criticism – the bizarre notion of a ‘playspace critic’ generally, of difficult navigation on a large, mostly invisible body of corporate play – a cybernetic circuit of embodied, contested pleasures.
83 [..] To consider the near-future classic imaginary concept andor index of “Bogosity”: placeholder stunt philosophy; treating the videographic as a remotely viable ontology; a ideological tendency toward political conservatism; extremely professional (‘strictly academic’) obfuscation thinly masquerading as romantic mystification-fluff; falsely weighty engagement with Teh Cultural – a placcid, 5″ ivory tower of desperate, private in-yokes shared among only ever partially self-critical neophytes. The danger for Ludonauts and their theorizing, lies in developing un-diagnosed symptoms of ludocrous ‘Bogosity’ / ‘McGonicalism’ – aka Micky Mouse Media Studies Syndrome. Hence the useful term ‘hmm, smells highly Bogust.’
84 [..] On ludocrousness / ludocrousity. Term: “Ludocrous”: pron. ‘ludo-cruss’. A term about (and of) playspace theory / criticism – accidentally semi-amusing andor mildly embarrassing comments and faintly vacuous, largely unimportant ideas about / around playspace, generated through often obvious non-philosophical absurdity, conceptual incongruity, analytical exaggeration and performative eccentricity for vain public effect and general self-congratulatory cleverness: “Bog (/blog) of eternal videoludic criticism smell bAAAAd.”
85 [..] The (ironic, given the artful, academic smelling naval lint already written for this exhibit) Bogosan classic prize for most ‘ludocrous’ playspace critique, goes to a passage written about Kentucky Route Zero, act 1: “[..] Of all the aforesaid traits, the utmost singularities of this contemplative journey stem from those lavish qualities and quiddities which challenge even the most enlightened report or explanation. The multitude of climatic moments it comprises, evocative as soon as perplexing, do tell of a wealth of potentialities insofar uncultivated at the bosom of this culturally impoverished medium. It is an atypical occasion when a computer user is permitted to engage in so transcendent an excursion, revealing in the rare guarantee that, regardless of forthcoming deviations, its creators can be trusted to possess sufficient sensibility and intellectual acumen to breathe new life into a moribund genre.” Do fucking what, mate? Cobblers more like.
86 [..] To consider videographic space critique can only ever comment on videographic spaces themselves – never explain them, but only ever explain them away, make them safe by apparently making them understandable. Yet never once do ‘Ludonauts’ seem they can imagine the possibility of life outside Ludocapitalism or without it – that this normalization of (apparently) universal and unquestionable videographic play is their only (cheap) stock in trade. As chuck d said: “It might feel good, it might sound a lil’ somethin’, but the fuck the game if it ain’t saying nothin’.”
87 [..] To imagine videographic spaces as an inherently unequal power relations between two bizarre synthetic entities (say ‘hypercorporation’ and ‘prosumer’) that cannot be trusted. Such a mis-relationship based on unsustainable illusion; where videographic space companies do in fact not create videographic spaces, only consumers and their apparently essential, life giving and affirming need for ludic-multivitamins. Where the playspaces themselves (the virtual non events which happen there from moment to moment) are often mere afterthoughts, a noisy, garish sideshow.. Much like the industry’s research scientists and defenders, cult worshippers forever riding forth to slay the playspace-hating wokies(tm).
88 [..] The central fact that one sits down, shuts up and keeps playing – ie. Keep ‘throwing money at the screen’ – as the only event that matters. Never what one plays, the actual, human meaning of such (ludofied) play – but that one simply keep playing. That this inter-activity, between dystopian cyberpunk hypercorp and playful research scientist prevents revolutionary collectivism. Divide and conquer into players – and everyone else. (except that, when everyone is always already a scientist in a system that is always thoroughly gamed from the very outset, what is there to revolutionize and endlessly update except one’s engine code, the superficial outer design of one’s avatar, or one’s graphics drivers?)
89 [..] In which there seems a forceful element to (the will to) modern visualisation; the need to push ‘seeing’ ever further; ever higher resolutions, detail, colours, contrast – to see beyond the invisible, to the very ends of the universe and beyond. What world is sustained by this aggressive seeing, this endless image hoarding? What are we afraid of missing – what do we imagine we’ll find? (Perhaps we’re only ever trying to re-find proof of ourselves / the self? Pffft, good luck with that.)
90 [..] Despite this, the attraction toward and fascination for specific videographic space images with ‘that special shine’ continues. But what exactly is this shine – how does one even go about identifying it? videographic spaces seem an elusive and slippery process of Culture. Perhaps it concerns one’s own slippery state of mind, as much specific perceived qualities in the images themselves; a proactive alienation from the mainstream, from the ludic digital. An unconscious desire for entirely new forms of artistic expression which make what most (/think they) understand as ‘videographic spaces’ look perfectly antiquated, hopelessly conservative and reactionary.
91 [..] To consider the default AAAA ludoindustry attitude, as follows: “Even more Madden copypasta? What about another vacuous open world, featuring endless spurious grindy tasks, cosmically pointless side quests and B.S collectables? How about yet another populist (far right) Call Of Duty: Press X To Xerox. Now with even more eggy ‘surprise mechanics’? ‘Play as a service’? Yeah – service to the fucking industry! LOL, you schmucks.”
92 [..] The visual experience of videographic space images and their resulting effects on human consciousness are embedded in the historical development of various types of industrial-scientific imaging methods – ie. ‘imaging’ as in ‘ways of seeing the world’. You term this approach to videographic spaces ‘abstract encounters’. (The term itself is an alternative to ‘videographic space.’) A cognitive shift [see: Decoherence Theory], resulting in a more genuinely bizarre, left-field form of conceptually explorative play. But that was long ago, and you continue to lack the cultural / financial resources to fully realize your vision.
93 [..] To paraphrasing volume 10 page 44 of Art Criticism: “In the handling of chaos, one must understand the art of the abstract.” Being highly limited, all playspaces are abstractions. Yet rather than being concerned with eg. Primal geometric forms per se, one might consider encouraging neurally stimulating forms to appear that, by their abstract natures and contemplative fictional spaces, carry or indicate subtle / philosophical ideas.
94 [..] On the high level of abstraction in Hypertography: ‘realism denies the impossible’. That is, encouraging experiences which could only happen in profoundly non-real / irreal spaces with oddly postmodern / hyperreal flavors; consider non-photoreal rendering. Related term: a “Carmack Inversal”: the inverse degree to which strictly ‘smart’ (nerdy) focus on technical development makes for philosophically challenging opportunities and delightfully unforseen play-potential. In which associated playspace studies / critique – aka ‘Ludology’ – has likewise not resulted in any significant evolutionary ludic leaps, even punctuated hops; perhaps this is because playspace criticism might be just another (/abstract) meta-playspace layer of the AAAA industry itself.
95 [..] To think instead terms of ‘scenes’ / ‘scenarios’; a sense in which videographic maps are too often a mere backdrop for action and play, when they could be another true dynamic, play-space enabling process. Single, rapidly sketched pieces of concept art usually contain more immediate interest, imagination and intelligence than entire AAAA projects bloated with millions of dollars and as many lines of code. The difference is, one expresses subjective spirit and mystery, the other megacorporate dollars and mold-pressed spam. To imagine instead new forms of ‘playspaces’ as improvisational theatre – inferring meaning-potential through semiotic playspace mechanics; sensitive social reasoning, rather than spatial reasoning.
96 [..] Videographic spaces as they are however continue to exist unabated and unchallenged – their domination as culture ever more colonially expansive with each passing moment. (indeed, videographic spaces are themselves are raw cultural-finance – the very thing which makes them problematic.) It’s not that the world has become a giant (darkly-laughably crap) AAAA videospace overnight, but rather that “because garmez” has apparently become the de facto mode of approaching or understanding the entire goddamn world. The prime sense-making processes. No other possibilities and priorities allowed – an apparently all encompassing model of (non) understanding. Ludocapitalism uber alles, a violently synthetic commonality – “We’re all just players in here!” now what exactly is up with that shit?
97.[..] Researcher Guy Debord: “The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life. The relation to the commodity is not only visible, but one no longer sees anything but it: the world one sees is its world. Modern economic production extends its dictatorship extensively and intensively.”
98 [..] In such a freakish situation – what is called ‘the experience economy’, perhaps videographic space images always exist as oddly contextless. Modeless – precisely signifying there’s nothing significant being signified. In the same way as being in a car can means one is somehow ‘outside of the outside’, existing in a global state of Ludocapitalism one is always on the outside, staring out at the big outside. That is, we’re continually displaced, despite being fixed in place – in the bizarre ‘third place’ (thanks, Sony Playstation) of techno-culture.
99 [..] Special exhibition side-feature: to consider the korporate ‘awesomepocalypse’ of Sunset Overdrive as (example) ultimate global Ludocapitalist metaphor.
“Fun is good”
– Dr. Seuss
“There can be only [maximum] Fun!”
– Paraphrasing Connor Macleod, Highlander Clan
A scenario of now: in which the true terror is that it’s seen as a severe cultural punishment not to get playspace states such as “Sunset Overdrive” permanently installed inside your franchised cybernetic eyeballs. Resist ‘FUN, INC’!
“Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements?”
– Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves To Death: Public Discourse In The Age Of Show Business
100 [..] Achtung! spaß ist pflicht! (Translation from German: ‘Attention! Fun is your duty / is compulsory!’) to consider Sunset Overdrive by Insomniac Games an imposed apocalypse of awesomeness that redefines what it means to be a laughable try hard – like your dad Fred Durst / Dave Matthews became a ‘mallternative’ / ‘rock star’ playspace developer by switching to Unreal War Engine, and was trying to impress the crowds at an Esports championship by doing ‘aggro’ nu-metal headspins at half time while spittin’ badass jive about ‘velocity’ and ‘getting amped’. (Or ‘violence, speed and momentum’, perhaps.) Old fashioned science fiction apocalypses used to be naively seen as mere warnings; nowadays, apocalypses arrive in the happy violence of unavoidable forever-FUN(tm).
101 [..] Sunset Overdrive’s conceptual ideology is expressed in its total freedom from justification – its overarching ‘dystopia lite’ design mantra “Fun trumps Realism” – that is, the very reality and truth of the human misery of / caused by such uninterruptible, synthetic digital joy. As creator Drew Murray clearly stated through his now classic design mantra:”We don’t care if it makes sense. If it’s cool and weird or unique, but it’s awesome, just do it.” That is, there’s no time to think or dream of alternatives – only ever time to Play. A delirious spinning in ecstatic-idiot infinity.
102 [..] To (even) remember Sunset Overdrive: like being woken by a Fun Counsellor at at an eternal 3AM with a ‘fun firehose’ while trapped inside a universal, politely barb-wired ‘camp wannagohome’ of the mind for the next ‘high-action, fast-paced’ round of directed videographic based fun. Howdy, virtual campers!
103 [..] In which Sunset Overdrive is the playspace that mainstream post industrial Ludocapitalism has been building up to for 20 years – a ‘blink-182 flavored Jet Set Radio you never knew you needed’: there’s now a ‘Sunset Overdrive event horizon’ of creative artistic integrity, beyond which it’s impossible to feature more shrink-wrapped korporate zany(r) – be more derivative, more removed from the source, more thoroughly devoid of soul. (Note the similar, corporate ‘rebellion’ behind and within the Alt Right crunch fest of Cyberpunk 2077.)
104 [..] The future as a dumb, smiling face of a willing member of the permanent ‘youff’ demographic, stamped on by an almond scented fair trade beach sandal worn by a hip, focus-group tested drone repeating “Hey you guys!!” with an omnipotent, endlessly upbeat vibe of ultra-contrived cool.. Forever. Sunset Overdrive: an utterly undead conceptual space colonised by stunningly fake-ass, white jive spittin’, self hi-fiving blockchain-ludic to-the-moon bro-dudes. As Zero Punctuation’s review of Sunset Overdrive puts it: “Chugging corporate cock so hard that its alveoli are tickling the bell end.”
105 [..] In which videographic space images appear in the gap between emptiness and the digital, arriving not merely from the void but being comprised of it (ala Ffunchi’s classic existential biocosmic horror flick The Beyond), forgotten andor abandoned nowheres, allegedly free of all socio-political narrative. Where the depthlessness of such spaces reinforce and intensify the myth that there are no hierarchies of power to challenge, only other B.S ‘achievements’ to grind for. A slave in the classic apocalyptic sci fi movie classic Planet Of The Apes, asks “What other way would it be?” That is, the apparently permanent, universal AAAA state; ‘homo ludens’. It’s the horrifyingly awful and amazingly dire book / movie ‘Ready Player One’, considered as an entire (inescapable, decidedly Trumpian three ring circus) universe. It’s like being born as a tie-in product.
106 [..] Researcher Slavoj Sizek on the matrix movies: “The choice between the blue or the red pill is not really a choice between illusion and reality. Of course the matrix is a machine for fictions, but these fictions structure our reality [..] Our delusion.. Is not believing in what is a fiction – on the contrary, it is not taking fictions seriously enough.”
107 [..] To consider that videographic spaces do not merely play Garmez with reality, but rather through a ‘pure’ opticality and the instant (synthetic) nature of visability, symbolically displays / displaces interactive play as a weightless, depthless reality; one is shot out into a continual present, an eventless nowness. “Now = Wow”, you krazy kidz. Keep playing – keep it real virtual.
108 [..] In which Hypertography indicates an aversion to standard mediocre promotional playspace industry tourism style ‘bullshots’; such images should not appear staged or forced – even though the global videographic space industry itself is the very deliberate, plastic stage we find ourselves upon, forced to perform as professional esports players. The only thing natural about Ludocapitalism is the degree to which its conveniently naturalized itself, colonially become the very virtual blandscape beneath our feet. This bizarre, ritualistic electron dance however seems to take place mostly in our unconscious – even as we interact with(/in) its very cultish (financial) mechanisms.
109 [..] To consider the bioelectrictrical pulses surging through someone when they allow the AAAA industry to play them, a mere electron in the flow of global capital. In this sense, all videographic spaces / images are always merely promotional branding narratives – from the outset they proudly (aggressively) state “Ludocapitalism rules!” Anything that ‘shows the global videographic spaces industry off at its best’ is a sick joke at everyone’s expense. The only thing it seems best at, is continually being the worst it possibly can.
110 [..] In which fanbois appear so emotionally, financially and conceptually invested in these friendly, evil ‘hyper(ludo)corpse’ that when such massive companies have eggs for breakfast and then pinch off another AAAA log, these wilfully uncritical stans know if korporate sempai’s had one egg or two. Go on, get another deep huff of what’s making you as inhuman as they are – collaborator in your own funslavement.
111 [..] Why is next to nobody remotely questioning the unstoppable cultural rise of a multi-billion dollar industry? One that, time and time again has proven itself as run by a gang of utter lizards, that pays less than zero tax, treats its employees like sick dogs, and has little but outright contempt for its passive audience. When it comes to digital interactive entertainment, droids desperate for batteries from their owners display more critical self awareness.
112 [..] ‘The charm of the real’: perhaps such videographic images display the charm of an actual, long forgotten strangeness which, due to its modern ubiquity and holographic transparency, is now forever merely mundane and therefore somehow utterly ignorable. (In fact, it is they which ignore us.) Previously, such images could appear without context, generating a fresh artistic experience – but since they ‘won the reality war’ all such images appear a holographic prism (/prison.) That is, they merely represent the entire modern (neoliberal) worldview of the apparently “universal player”(tm).
113 [..] In which ‘the hypertographic displays a hallucinatory resemblance to itself’. One key conceptual idea is that “Videogames won the reality war.” To consider the notion that there was such a thing as a vast, global battle – an all out assault on andor for reality, that garmez won long ago – effortlessly, silently, without anyone even noticing or really caring. Silent drops of bittersweet digital poison for the eye: ‘image sickness’ – a ‘sickness of seeing’. Fellow Big Scientist Researcher Dr. Brian O’Blivion calls this ‘The battle for the mind of North Amerika’ aka The Videodrome – but more accurately it was the battle of the global North American ludic mindset on the last traces of reality.
113b [..] To note how the AAAA playspace industry also talks about the millions of hours, the tears and sweat poured into videographic art in terms of mere ‘content’ – like styrofoam packing peanuts.
114 [..] Fellow Big Scientist ‘Snake’ Pliskin terms all this a ‘dark paradise’, and seems to be referring to the inverted light spectrum enacted via contemporary global Ludocapitalism – a permanent 60’s style ‘black light effect’ in which the world spins on its malformed head, in freefall through the airless atmosphere of contemporary ‘permanent global videographic R&D’ (in which everyone on post apocalyptic Anthropogenic climate change earth is forced to EMP (enjoy, make and play) AAAA playspaces at all times, without pause. – Does that sound a little too far fetched, a little too dystopian? Perhaps we just need to stop and check how far humans have actually shoved ourselves down this freakish virtual road already. ‘They game, we live’.
115 [..] On the word ‘actually’, as apparently opposed to ‘virtually’: in which Hypertography suggests that the two are hopelessly burred, entangled (as in quantum physics?) But then maybe the true relationship between two, between reality and ‘The Video Real’ has simply been techno-romantisized to the point of total myth.
116 [..] On playspace and virtual reality prisons: when insidious two legged uncanny valley droids like Stink Musk suggest there’s a good chance ‘we are all living in a computer simulation’, he really means “Welcome to our permanent hyper-capitalist videospace industry VR-hell already.” (iI there’s anyone living in a hermetic digital bubble, it’s lizard faced guy-smiley mothers like him, or that dead eyed, artificially intelligent bot Sugarborg.) It’s not a choice to live here, it’s just the only game in town. You think that’s free air you’re breathing, citizen-research scientist? That’s raw financial data, baby. (Turns out John Romero really did make you his unironic beeyatch.) It’s now your duty to be forever AAAA-happy. Now smile harder, citizen! Virtuality; what happens when you let white nerds loose on a planet’s imagination.
117 [..] Frozen inertia, a rising potential – where such ‘hypertographic’ images always appear on the edge of meaning, manifesting as a broken, impossibly intricate and seemingly useless mechanism from an ancient civilisation, only of obscure interest to dimensionally passing alien anthropologists. Yet such psychedelic-spiritual insectoid entities understand such images are cursed, and treat them as dangerous; it’s these image’s ability to charm with their unique shiny reality, which enthrals and mystifies – not those who gaze upon them, but rather all those their gaze penetrates, makes zero degree cool and silent. A bright, impossibly hard glaze, a shimmering energy field. The hypertographic future really doesn’t need you – not even as a battery. This is about total image dominion; this simply isn’t your reality any more, little player.
118 [..] To consider virtual tourism – ‘Voorism.’ what such travellers in search of the hypertographic perform while travelling. Not exactly ‘taking’ snapshots but ‘city experiencing’ like Walter Benjamin style ‘psychogeography’ – going on feeling (mostly lonely, thirsty, alienated and odd.) Remembering brilliant novel “The Search” By Geoff Dyer. Perhaps in the same way real (Capitalist) world tourism is about wrecking the environment and destroying local actual-culture, maybe virtual tourism shares this mindset, in which evil global videospace industry hypercorporations colonize the imagination; that is, the very lands we think we explore ‘freely’ are always already theirs. Our ordinary, everyday visual environment is the product of hidden (market) forces. Naive data pirates, sailing the Ludonautical high seas of AAAA finance.
119 [..] In which Research Scientists aren’t intrepid Amazonian explorers, traversing the hot, damp underverse of interactive digitality while sporting beige pith helmets, but first and foremost mere consumables – consumed and absorbed, borg like, by global Ludocapital. Disposable, interchangeable data nodes. Perhaps it is the photographic videographic space object which takes the subject and not the other way around, only ever proving their own absence.
120 [..] In which virtual photography expresses a vast pseudo-diversity, in the same way that Amerikan supermarkets have several hundred types of breakfast cereal on display – yet all these are based on one or two mutant frankenstrains of evil-hypercorporate owned wheat or corn (also as in ‘corny’.) Elizabeth Minnich, writing in The Evil Of Banality: Arendt Revisited: “It just takes a practised conventionality, a cliched conscience, emotional conformity, susceptibility to small-scale bribery by salary, goods, and/or status, a sense of isolation, and distrust [..] It just takes, that is, much of what in better times keeps a society provided with reliable and ambitious workers, status anxious consumers, polite neighbours, agreeable team players, and citizens who make no waves: an ability to go along thoughtlessly, to play the game.”
121 [..] What the mainstream videographic space fan crowd finds fascinating is too often almost always exactly whatever the industry currently wants them to gawp at, pecking crows conveniently and willingly distracted by shiny strips of tin foil dancing in Ludocapitalism’s silent, dark global media storm. (Note the foil itself is perfectly path-traced in real time, and reflects cool neon lighting fx.)
122 [..] While endlessly scrolling down in Valve Korp’s lousy image browser, sometimes for an hour or more, you have to endure the same damn images showing up again and again.. Probably something to do with Valve’s naff display algorithm. Yet often the deeper you explore, the less the screenshots have that glossy, tiresome and blindingly obvious look of ‘dead end industry thrills’ about them. The more casual and unscripted they get. Off the cuff and impromptu. Accidental – a odd, non logical consequence of a playspace’s expected (imaginative) possibilities. Fénelon, Adventures Of Telemachus: “The closer he came to this deceptive image of the island’s shore, the more this image receded; it continued to flee from him, and he knew not what to think of this flight.”
123 [..] There are more glitches and oddities on display down here in Valve’s community image browser, scenes where nothing itself is happening – an active voidness. Fewer explosions and contrived ‘cinematic’ motion and more liminality, strange silence. These are often where ‘the Hypertographic’ often shows its face, in baudrillard’s desert-real. You wonder how many countless days you’ve spent, like some sweating loot box gambling addict, free falling through the browser, ‘skydiving onto a fractal island’ that you’ll never quite land on, continually hoping for that next big dopamine-potential spike to temporarily hotwire your playspace dulled player brain, waiting expectantly for some ‘perfect’ image / scene / scenario to arrive, its cheap vision searing your empty artistic skull.
124 [..] To consider there’s nothing special whatsoever about so-called Hypertographic images, only their potential symbolic meaning as another (/better? truly stranger?) world outside mainstream play. (Except there is no damn outside, only the videographic hyper matrix of AAAA experience – and ‘Neo never left’, cyber-punk.) Jean Baudrillard on the Matrix movies: “The Matrix is surely the kind of film about The Matrix that The Matrix would have been able to produce.”
125 [..] On getting high on Dead End Thrills: an image remix. To consider play not merely about realistic, high fidelity graphics or frozen ‘epic moments’ – but about living people; their dynamic relationships and their weird ideas. In which anything else seems a dead, dry end. A mere, slick propaganda website for cinematic realism – encouraging the default hollowness and uninterrupted void of imaginative talent behind the world’s most generic products. (Drinking game: throw back another shot every time another unctuous industry figurine splits loose jive about ‘passion’.)
126 [..] In which the ideological mission of AAAA industry ‘bullshots’ is to consider the essential elements of play and players a mere distraction and instead provide ‘lovingly captured’ snapshots of often startlingly empty virtual worlds and their blandly beautiful inhabitants – where even the designer dirt is clean. Where all such shots seem to arrive from the same (ideological) engine – an engine that can only render clones and cookie-cutter blandscapes.
127 [..] It might accurately be compared the work of a lost “unit stills photographer” on a dull movie set: the job is to falsely flatter and mis-translate videographic play yet (allegedly) without any presence of korporate ownership. To somehow provide a visual document that isn’t diminished by technology – yet which is in fact nearly entirely defined by i.t.
128 [..] To consider such overt attempts to further confuse vitally important debates over the big business of modern play. That is, its only true interest is in the heavily sanitized corporate ‘art'(tm) that exists within what i.t regards as an dumb entertainment medium only (in a paradoxically sly bid to validate play or win approval from an otherwise intelligent jury of ‘objective’ critics.)
129 [..] An expensively cheap videographic space tourism: unconsciously, it loves ogling videographic play landmarks with a virtual instamatic – and even ridiculously appears to states this is actually ‘the job of play itself’ (indeed rock$tar would agree). Its central underlying ethic is that of work: to confine and isolate videographic play from wider cultural questions and critique. Indeed, such ‘Hypertography’ discards hundreds more shots than it posts, in an all out effort of deliberate selection, design and cultural decontextualization.
130 [..] To note that lossy jpg compression has lessened the applied chromatic aberration effect – used, not only to smooth out jpg compression artifacts, but to actively enhance the subjective feeling of being ‘at once removed’ from what’s on screen. A sheen – a soft bright gel glaze, a strange shimmer at the digital surface of things. This ‘at-once-removedness’ seems akin to the feeling of lo-fi VHS glitch culture, of the attraction of early / retro computerised screens as a child, of being watched by TV in forever lonely 3AM by-the-week motels by the side of the Paris-Texas superhighway to videographic space oblivion. The silent howling moon high overhead in a barren data sky.
131 [..] You noticed the jpeg compression techniques used did a better job if you first decided to add a minimal amount film grain; the resulting image displayed the same high level of quality overall. Blocking and ringing artifacts were less apparent, and darker grey scales stayed visible. You then stupidly de-noised these images, attempting to decrease image upload times, but they ended up more blurred and less consistent.
132 [..] Sometimes it almost appears like the sky is somehow painted on in such images, that it even has corners – that you’re actually inside a vast box full of hollow data where one skims, drifts, glides and coasts – aesthetic reflexes of the rationality aspired by the depthless prevailing system called Economics. Yet despite this, patterns of cultural history persist which can be read and deciphered, in the form of coatings, film, stains – surface ripples and eddies, internal tensions.
132 [..] In which videographic space images, specifically those taken in ‘noclip’ mode, somehow link to what freelance Internet Theorist Robert What terms ‘decoherence theory’: the idea-space that, eg. “You don’t have to travel to Mars.. because somehow you’re always already there.” Basically a modern equivalent of Dune’s notion of ‘Tey al ard’ (traveling without moving), conceptually involving Edwin A. Abbot’s ‘A-Square’ and higher dimensions – linked to Penrose Triangles and Slavoj Zizek’s notion of Parallax View. A (dark) matter of radically shifting dimensional perspectives. In a centreless universe of strange light, everywhere is always somehow already absolutely everywhere. Hypertograpy’s global Ludocapitalist-spectacle nowhere as everywhere / anywhere.
133 [..] In which psychology’s (dubious, ideological) notion of derealization in the context of Hypertography means ‘the sleeper must (fully) awaken’ – to the bizarre new reality imposed by such global images, and the Ludocapitalism from which they manifest; that is, awaken into the full ultra high definition realization of the true extent of its brilliant, spectral utopian daymare. It’s all so very clean and bright here – for shiny, happy players only.
134 [..] Paraphrased from M. Sechehaye’s Autobiography Of A Schizophrenic Girl: “It was as though the world was unable to be set apart from the playspace. Just then your synthetic eyes encountered a field of digital wheat whose limits you could not see. That yellow vastness, dazzling in the artificial sun, bound up with the 8bit song playing in background, filled you with such joy that you wept. Homesick for unfamiliar places, you accessed your imagination garden and began to ‘continue making strange things appear as they are usually not’ – ie. to fully remain in this irreality. It was the first appearance of those elements which were always present in later sensations of hyperreality: illimitable vastness, brilliant light, intense colors, and the shimmering, frictionless surface gloss of a disconcerting and profound immateriality.”
135 [..] Derealization is the phenomenon in which things appear strange and unfamiliar, serves a critically productive role in the creative process of virtual photography / Hypertography. It’s core estrangement, altered body image, obsessional scepticism and prolonged observation combined into a method of visual inquiry – a process that entails the deconstruction of habitual and routine perceptions associated with day-to-day (techno-ludic) reality. In which seeing things as unfamiliar, unknown, or even as meaningless confers an advantage on the player, both loosening the constraints of corporate pre-conceptions and supporting alternative, fresh (/’hypertographic’) perceptions.
136 [..] To consider aesthetic derealization as a common dissociative mechanism separates perception from cognition or seeing from knowing. While sometimes crude and disorienting, such an aesthetic approach or mode is often flexible and enlightening, employing an intriguing mix of sophistication and naivete in ‘seeing things strangely’.
137 [..] Derealization as an experience is both striking and enigmatic. While nothing new (especially in our Trumpian universe) the sense that the external environment has become strange or unreal belies an inherently complex, often poorly understood mechanism that cuts across multiple perceptual, affective, and cognitive levels. Cultural objects may separately look strange, feel strange, or lose meaning entirely, symbolically suggesting that subjective experience of a seamless reality may be an illusory construct of multiple (even violently conflicting) elements. It is Derealization’s propensity to invite such questions that give it an intriguing quality and attraction to interdisciplinary R&D investigations ranging from the clinical to the philosophical.
138 [..] Conceptualised as a dissociative symptom often triggered by the trauma of living in a thoroughly postmodern century, the diagnostic and functional status of Derealization remains uncertain, in the sense it presents itself in altered states like electronic meditation. Its function (if any) is generally construed as a defensive mechanism – as the mind’s way of coping with the overwhelming shock or stress of the unreality of modern (digital Ludocapitalist) existence
139 [..] The notion that derealization might be useful for its own sake receives no attention in mainstream (Ludocapitalist) culture. It’s often argued that its direct behavioural and subjective effects are largely negative, with cultural objects appearing odd, flat, dull, and devoid of any personal, emotional, or cognitive significance. Framing the question from a cognitive perspective, if derealization is defined as the loss of familiarity and meaning – Baudrillard’s ‘radical desimulation’ – what possible productive purpose could be served in experiencing seemingly familiar objects as strange, unfamiliar, even meaningless?
140 [..] In the Russian language, the word ostranenie or defamiliarization denotes the artistic technique of forcing an audience to see common things in an unfamiliar or strange way. The strategy is a literary device, whose employment is deliberate and often satirical. Hypertography’s focus is on the actual experience of derealization as part of the creative process of self-reflection and detailed observation, integrated by a larger, communal aesthetic context: the unsystematic deconstruction of the seemingly familiar process of global Ludocracy or Ludocapitalism, the standard behavioural patterns associated with this conventional reality and the dismantling of its apparent but illusory unity, seamlessness.
141 [..] The capacity of this process to isolate features and relationships otherwise unseen or unappreciated suggests a critical distinction between a player’s often fruitless existential exercise of The Ludic and a rigorous, philosophical method of intense visual analysis (ie. an analysis of the very notion of ‘the visual’ itself.) The very features associated with this disintegrated experience of depthless reality in this setting are used as a ‘big’ scientific device to explore and dissect the sensory, affective, somatic, and cognitive components of modern AAAA play.
142 [..] In which such a visual dissection involves a wrestling with how knowledge (in the form of scientific preconceptions) shape and even bias the perception of Ludocapitalist reality-spectacle, which sets the stage for interpreting derealization within a broader cognitive framework. This raises the issue of how top-down cognitive processing informs our misperceptions of Ludocracy, and routinely directs them to what’s expected and familiar, as opposed to what seeing and feeling what’s more actually (/not) there; dissociating knowing from seeing may be one of the potential benefits of ‘Hypertography’s aesthetic derealization.
143 [..] The dissociation of the meaning of videographic spaces from their common perception may be disorienting and anxiety producing for the modern player or ‘big scientist’, but it offers a fresh look at an overly familiar and pre-conceived scene. For this reason, ‘Hypertography’ might at least suggest the existence of a more flexible and nuanced form of psychedelic subcultural play.
144 [..] The focus, intensity, and content of such a Ludocapitalist derealization can be directed externally toward intangible digital objects, and inwardly toward aspects of self such as identification as ‘an advanced research & development scientist’. One of the more common descriptions of the onset of ‘hypertographic’ derealization is the re-emergence of a screen between subjects and their playful surroundings. There’s a renewed sense of a veil – that one can’t seem to get hold of the world of digital play (that indeed it has hold of oneself.) It is as if one walks toward oneself from opposite ends of a virtual street, suddenly feeling an odd sense of estrangement, as if one had never seen one’s own face before.
145 [..] The more one stares at the modern model of reality offered by global ludovideo, the more the screen between its reality and one’s own grows. One starts by seeing the person who plays with / in advanced videographic spaces, but little by little all the possible forms of them outside play start to intervene. The more a real vision of self outside ludic appears, the stranger one becomes. One is no longer sure of one’s appearance, or of anything much at all.
146 [..] From an aesthetic perspective, this disintegration or unravelling of components that are usually bound together in a singular, unified image intimates a plasticity of digital form; that there’s no single correct view in the photographic sense, and references a simultaneous multiple-perspective, multimodal approach common to artistic movements such as cubism and dada. It highlights a counter-intuitive relationship between duration of observation and degree of familiarity / reality. It’s as if the various identifying qualities of the model offered (imposed) by Ludocapitalism can be successively peeled away or dissected, one dimensional plane at a time. (Of course, in daily videographic practice this seems impossibly virtual.)
147 [..] If the final assembled product is conscious experience of oneself as alien player or ‘big scientist’, then deconstruction pulls perception apart from cognition, and prolonged examination and study make things less, not more, clear and comprehensible. The result is an often striking sensory alteration. Objects and people in ludovideo may not just feel different, but can literally look and feel distorted. One can even argue that the experience of estrangement is to some degree separable (able to be disassociated) from its accompanying perceptions. (Distinguish, for example, between factual or visual familiarity with the warm glow of emotional familiarity.) A scene can appear strange and unfamiliar without any change in its (virtual) ‘physical’ attributes. Conversely, appearance can be visually distorted apart from derealization or loss of familiarity.
148 [..] Such a re-focus on the relationship between sensory features and how they are bound together, assume a strangely visceral quality. The sudden lack of fit between appearance and meaning is not just intellectually strange, but can even be unbearable; painfully sublime. Elements are suddenly not just separable, but in conflict and even violently incompatible. Boundaries and connections become blurred not just within, between. The concerns of a ‘hypertographic’ derealization often centre on weightier, existential issues. What is normally a joke or a tautology – eg. ‘being an alien research scientist from the near future’ because one cannot imagine anything else or anything better – suddenly takes on renewed significance because of this feeling of acute strangeness. That is, the mere notion that is in fact entirely possible to question such an identity at all
149 [..] In what can be characterised as a moment of epiphany, perhaps the process of ‘hypertographic defamilization’ outlines a fundamental transformation in one’s perception of (apparently universal and unquestionable) reality offered by Ludocapitalism – essentially equating the familiar view of the world with banality. Shedding the conventional view then becomes a necessary prelude to seeing things, not as they “really” are but more simply as they might be (that is, outside mainstream Play.) Before, the virtual reality of global play had been something familiar, banal, or ‘stable’. Now, there might well be a complete change in reality – a chance for the unseen to manifest – the altogether unknown, the actually marvellous and fantastic (and not merely virtual.)
150 [..] At its more primordial level, the familiarity of reality is associated with survival and integrity, which explains why any sudden absence of videographic spaces from one’s life often feels so distressing to the modern player (hence their common prayer or ideological mantra ‘shut up and keep playing (videogames’.) Derealization may literally mean abandonment or personal dissolution; the increasing realization that hypercorporate play may no longer love us, or treat us as anything more than passive, robotic consumers.
151 [..] In which the symbolic role of the ‘hypertographic’ is to challenge the status quo of global spectacular play, not to maintain it. Familiarity and predictability actively threaten and stifle novel interpretations. Like a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ trip into the hallucinogenic polyverse, the determinants of the experience often depend on its social and emotional setting. Ironically, what is always imposed and arbitrary for players – the ludic itself – is to be willingly encouraged for those undergoing hypertographic derealization of the global state of modern corporate Ludocapitalism.
152 [..] Where such a state of detachment translates to player’s sensory experiences, rendering the world of AAAA play colourless, flat, and unmovie-like. The extreme detachment in the derealization of the apparently endless positive qualities of AAAA Ludocapitalism may suddenly generate a desperate search for meaning, raising existential quandaries for those confronting themselves as determined explorers of the more essential meanings of self outside ‘being a player’ (feeling totally ‘played’ / played out.) That is, the central concerns of the videographic space-derealized are primarily philosophical, clarifying fundamental epistemological and creative issues through a radical and self-critical re-evaluation of the existential trauma caused by / via its images.
153 [..] Such contemplative detachment retains and even enhances sensory precision and vibrancy. In this respect, it may resemble other semi-healthy detachments, like that of the research scientist, whose methods employ selective, measured, and complex mixtures of empathetic distance and cognitive precision; processes that stress the problem of familiarity and preconceptions in diluting the immediate unfiltered sensory experience of modern play. It suggests that in contrast to unhealthy memories that automatically integrate sensory data to fit within a convenient narrative framework (eg. The ‘natural’ story of oneself as a near future alien research scientist), traumatic memories (ie. those questioning the enforced unreality of global Ludocapitalism) remain fragmented, isolated, and constantly revised.
154 [..] Indeed, it’s the absence of immediate (cultural) context and meaning that accounts for their quality. When players receive sensory input from videographic spaces, they generally automatically synthesize this incoming information into a narrative form – “I’m playing and, er isn’t it great?” without conscious awareness of the processes that translate such sensory impressions into a personal, believable story. This is the (instant) failure of information processing on a symbolic level, and exists at the very dead core of the pathology of society’s pseudo-interactive Ludocracy.
155 [..] Memories of ludovideo consist of images, sensations, affective and behavioural states, that are invariable and do not change over time and are condensed in order to fit current social (ideological) expectations. What is intriguing is that players consistently claim that their perceptions are exact representations of sensations at the time of the existential trauma of global Capitalist play. It is precisely in its apparently unedited, ‘original’ qualities that such memories might be said to resemble the kind of perceptual pseudo-experiences that hypercorporations favour. One can argue that while symbolic representations, like narratives, names, and labels are more efficient and concise, it is this revising, and interpreting – mostly preconscious – that an aesthetically deliberate process of derealization might effectively undo.
156 [..] Perhaps, it is these concerns that propel many big scientists to direct their focus not on the exotic, but the most commonplace of objects and experiences, which in effect has become obfuscated by familiarity. The usual artistic technique is to alter a familiar and expected context, thus forcing Players / ‘Big Scientists’ to see the preconceived object in other ways – in essence to remake it actually stranger, unrealer, and more truly unfamiliar. Andy Warhol’s campbell soup cans however are precisely not a good example of this (they’re just more Kapitalist krap.)
157 [..] Perhaps the peculiar tendency of the Hypertographic is to see in a way free of normal conceptual adjustments, and to react to what is strictly invisible – a narrow focusing upon a compact form out there in (inner) space, an attentiveness to apparent size at a given distance, producing the hallucinatory sense of global hyperreality spectacle which is probably its most characteristic feature. This form of awareness might help explain the heightened, strangely vacillating quality of such images and their unique (alien, ‘biopsychic’) spaces. Such a subjective seeing experience resides neither on the retina nor in the external form of the image, but in the far more complex interrelationships between player and (/the socio-cultural act of) seeing itself.
158 [..] The objective is not to attain some purer, unfiltered, and unrevised sensory registration of global ludovideo (a fictional tabula rasa regularly attained by AAAA play) but rather to reintroduce flexibility into the very process of one’s alien perception. The aesthetic derealization possible or latent within Hypertography suggests a symbolic suspension or relaxation of pre-existing meanings or habitual modes of viewing that permit the introduction of radically alternative cognitive models – that is, alternatives to globally imposed fiscal-ludic reality. (This somehow seems related to the practice of Alexander Technique and its conceptual notion of ‘inhibition’.)
159 [..] To tacitly acknowledge that such virtual ‘worlds’ are worlds seems a distinctly anaesthetic construct – ones that appear real, simply and precisely because they’re so visually compelling. We almost always tend to trust forms we find appealing – especially (and non-ironically) optical illusions. Yet it has not been nearly enough to say videographic spaces like “The Sims” are mere replacements for actual real life for some time now; rather, it’s about the (market) relations hypertographic images symbolize, enable and maintain. (Who needs the goddamn Sims anyhow, when we already have showers of brain undead Golgafrinchian rectums like The Kardashians strutting around inside our empty, gawping, forever easily pleased skulls? Who can even tell them apart?)
160 [..] In which the existential threat of videographic space images is not their vague relationship andor dubious claim to some mythic truth (as in verisimilitude), but the possibility that truth per se has no relationship with digital images – ‘dynamic’ (videographic) ‘static’ (hypertographic) or otherwise. That they are always merely their own private spectacle – ‘copies without originals’ as Baudrillard states.
161 [..] On the lost art of ‘noclip’ – an abstract virtual playspace photography technique. To consider a rapidly dying, if not by now all but entirely lost art called ‘noclipping’ – the exploration and exposure of unusual and uncommon videographic space perspectives and ‘angles of final approach’ (to what Robert What terms ‘The Video Real’) via the use of a videographic space engine developer debug mode.
162 [..] According to the quake fandom wiki, ‘noclip’ is a command that prevents the character from colliding with other in-engine objects and permits the virtual camera to move in any direction, allowing it to go through such things as walls, props, and other players in a movement similar to the ‘fly’ cheat. The player can travel into usually hidden vacuums, voids, or undeveloped areas. (And yet, such spaces are always already an entire digital void.)
163 [..] “On final approach to The Video Real”: a (deadpan) bizarre non-place nobody ever quite gets to land on, or arrive at. The (affectless) effect is often best and most clearly seen – or rather remotely experienced / experienced-by-proxy via watching scan-lined videographic footage of ‘games seen playing on television’. (Or by watching Stephen Soderberg’s excellent electronic meditation ‘Sex, Lies & Videogames’.)
164 [..] To consider ‘noclip’ as an important tool for Digital Archaeology – a performative act of philosophically critical, sociopolitical curation where unexpected juxtapositions seem positively sculptural, architectural – conceptually running parallel to historical conversations concerning Dada, Cutups and Montage art.
165 [..] Precious future alien memory fragments: where noclip gives visual voice to previously undocumented (/sub) cultural architectures. Nowadays, to go deep ‘off-map’ into officially non sanctioned and anti-designed videospace seems a positively political act of exploratory rebellion. (Resident Internet Theorist Robert What feels this cannot be stated enough. In the ‘near future now’, players who express even the remotest desire to travel off map within korporate virtual videographic worlds will be labelled criminal hackers, and severely punished – eg. their life bar drained and their Social Credit score permanently nerfed). As the announcer said in tron (1982, all-American techno-cult sci fi action-adventure film for pasty nerds, written and directed by Steven Lisberger): “Video game warriors escaping game grid. This is an illegal exit. You must return to game grid. Repeat! this is an illegal exit. You must return to the grid.”
166 [..] On problematic ‘4th wall’ removal: in which the photo / graphical technique of noclip seen in Hypertography does not necessarily remove the 4th wall. Perhaps there is no 4th wall, or indeed any other kind – everything is always already fully exposed, andor rather the player-scientist is always themselves totally naked before videographic space simulation space. To quote player Jean Baudrillard in Simulacra And Simulation: “Three-dimensionality of the simulacrum – why would the simulacrum with three dimensions be closer to the real than the one with two dimensions? It claims to be, but paradoxically, it has the opposite effect: to render us sensitive to the fourth dimension as a hidden truth, a secret dimension of everything, which suddenly takes on all the force of evidence. The closer one gets to the perfection of the simulacrum (and this is true of objects, but also of figures of art or of models of social or psychological relations), the more evident it becomes (or rather to the evil spirit of incredulity that inhabits us, more evil still than the evil spirit of simulation) how everything escapes representation, escapes its own double and its resemblance. In short, there is no real: the third dimension is only the imaginary of a two-dimensional world, the fourth that of a three-dimensional universe.”
167 [..] Noclip: somehow one possible visual metaphor for the Bundle Theory of consciousness? That noclip restates the imposing (Ludocapitalist) reality of the actual, illusionary synthetic nature of the videographic and their virtual architectures. Noclip: not about finding an odd (photographic / conceptual) angle for the sake of it, but rather about exploring proto or ur-space. ‘Electrovading’ ideological spaces. Conceptual gaps in contemporary digital ‘void architectures’.
168 [..] To consider however that you’re not quite some digital Indiana Jones, digging in the dusty ancient online meta-archives with the beaming, overly confident, faintly smug (colonial) mindset of some long undead father figurine, but rather more akin to a passing alien anthropologist from the ‘near future now’, manifesting in local wired spacetime as the avatar spirit version of character Faith Connors from videogamespace Mirror’s Edge – a hyper intelligent, Asian post-Cyberpunk A.I on a sociocultural mission to deconstruct interactive architectural play (paida) from its current undead industry desert-of-the-irreal ruins.
169 [..] Where, just like character Faith Connors armed with the ancient martial art / technique of ‘noclip’, you’ll often find yourself repeatedly falling / failing through long-abandoned fractal records of (the faint signs of passing of) megastructural videographic space architecture-systems, and (in a classic phrase well known to players of strange imaginary game space Big Science) “Your death will be like bad science fiction”(tm.)
170 [..] A contextless, self-bootstrapping systemic dis-function: despite the convenient myths it loves to tell itself, the hyperreal matrix of modern global Ludocapitalism does not exist as a solid, impenetrable whole; while the effect is certainly that of a dead-lead anvil repeatedly dropping on the head of contemporary electronic playbor (ie. Players), consider i.t formed of functionally-infinite overlapping two dimensional sheets, each as sharp as ceramic medical scalpels – with the ability to warp and distort over strange, deformed ideological shapes which pass in the theoretical night, and give the idea of philosopher Walter Benjamin acute ‘Arcadian’ visions, as if he’d prosumed one too many synthe-cheese snacks and hypercorporate energy drinks before bedtime in Ludocapital’s global enforced-Fun(tm) camp.
171 [..] In which there is no ‘lost art of noclip’: because noclip has long been the new default ontological state of videographic space void architecture and interactive digital play; rather than some special mystical secret state one enters through ‘hacking teh gibsons’ via ‘l33t’ console commands like some muscular, permanently stiff version of John Carmack, ‘noclip’ is the standard mode of interfacing with digital image flux and flow – a npc ghost in the undead machine with no voice that makes no sound, and only leaves minor traces of its nonlinear pathways through the temporary constructions and disjointed backwater edifices of holy interactivity / ‘interpassivity’.
172 [..] Remember, rather than indicate a potential epistemological gap for radical critique or accidental opportunity for collective reinterpretation, the glitch – the image of the glitch – has long since merely indicated a symbolic reinforcement of the dominance of the image over social relationships, a state of permanent crisis of these trying (distinctly financial) times; in actuality, glitches merely indicate the playspace’s smooth ludic functioning, of millions of players in retro-fitted cyberspace all simultaneously screaming ‘this is fine’ while the ‘AAAA’ industry [say it like James Stephanie Sterling roleplaying Skeletor] continues to chew itself sick and vomit forth more playspaces-as-self-service content, as perfectly interchangeable and terminally dull as a billion solar tons of beige styrofoam packing peanuts.
173 [..] In which ‘noclip’ seems a lost art, precisely imprecisely because the player who plays (inacts) their pretty path-traced product is willingly lost in/as its glimmering spectacle – has already ‘amused themselves to undeath and has gone beyond’ (like the two unfortunates in Fulchi’s biocosmic horror-Gorgonzola masterpeice The Beyond) and is already way past reproach, care or rescue – an atomistic nomad freely conversing in the garbled nonsense ‘visual language’ of what might be termed the ‘Big Science’ of pseudo-strange digital play; as much imaginary as pained, desperate, lonely and malignantly useless (ie. its ability to make lizard owners of the means of plastic production ever more zeros in their offshore blockchain accounts.)
174 [..] Player X: We’ve been on this server a while.. Hey, ever considered you’re just a dim, two dimensional research scientist skin that’s just popped out of a cheap 1edollar lootbox brought by some toxic trilby doffing squeaker on his mom’s maxed out arts-implanted bitcoin chip?
Player Y: Oh yeah, always.. You?
Player X: I’ve come here to reclaim your post humanity in the horrible, unblinking and violently bland uncanny-valley face of ultramodern ludocapital, and will not be leaving until microtransaction exchange rates on your favourite R&D playspace of choice fall below a critical threshold, directly index linked to your pre rendered post-E3 trailer heart rate of raw preorder Hype(tm)!
Player Y sighs: I just can’t talk to you when your like this.
Player X: Like what?
Player Y: Edgy degree-zero, virtual and pumped.
175 [..] Videographic space criticism as an empty, lightly blood spattered white cube gallery in the ‘Cthulhuscene’: wandering through the digital architectural spaces of the twilight noclip realm reveals as much empty space as it does brightly colored form – one soon daydreams of ecological catastrophe, cosmic horror and the biopolitics of Doom Eternal; of course, there’s no dark side of the moon exists – “it’s all dark” – consider whatever bizarre eternal 3am eternal glow projects off the abandoned lunar surface of your deliberately oldskool 360hz@8k virtual retroludic popover holomonitor merely the visible aspect of z_totalizing electronic void, paradoxically forever invisible, precisely because its constantly being made visible through the ideological (war) rendering engines of whatever lousy playspace you’ve currently got your digital d1ck hooked up to.
176 [..] The eye as a portal to the bizarre alien reality of the (forever missing) present defined by the techno-ludic. Perhaps ‘Hypertography’ signals the emergence of a ‘visual language’ – an actual (post human?) sign system of ‘super surfaces’ and depthless branes – holographic projections, z-buffers, a certain (uncertain) depthlessness – of ontologically incomplete universes and zizek’s cosmic disjunction. One could term this ‘apparency’ [insert cool sounding definition here, which makes you look clever thoughtful and hip – and therefore worthy of vast swathes of money making attention on global social (Ludocapitalist) megamedia]
177 [..] To consider videospace realism as ideology. In which there seems a direct link between, eg. Nvidia’s (corporate ideology of) ‘realism’ and theorist Mark Fisher’s notion of ‘capitalist realism’. To note how playspace engines literally render Ludocapitalist ideology – make it visible, enable it in / as the world. In the near future now, everyone is always already a full time research scientist, prosumer and designer of AAAA play-to-earn multiplayer videographic spaces. A modified version of Highlander’s movie call ‘There can be only Fun!’ echos throughout the vast, hollow golden digital canyons where players eek out a meagre (virtual) existence streaming, laughing, screaming on queue and shouting seemingly veiled alt right hate speech down our studio quality wireless headset mics. That is, the notion of ‘cinematic photorealism’ in videographic spaces as raw techno-cultism. Designer Warren Spector: “Can you imagine what playspace we would have if John Carmack decided he wanted to create a believable character as opposed to a believable gun? [..] Stop rendering!”
178 [..] On the ideological aesthetics of the light seen in Battlefield. Theorist Paul Virilio states: “Weapons are not just tools of destruction they are also tools of perception.” To consider that even the light in the Battlefield franchise directly signifies a gleaming surface – ideological – reality (ie. photorealist work ethic). In which light itself appears as an information channel, imparting specific ideas – in case of Battlefield, ideas about war – which have direct efficacy in the real world of flesh and bone.
179 [..] Battlefield, an important cultural commentary and propaganda statement on modern warfare – its alleged social darwinian naturalness and unquestionable inevitability. The idea being that war – now with improved destructibility! – is both exciting and manly – that ‘playing wargames’ makes one more alive.. Though anyone who needs to live through uninterrupted death and unlimited destruction might mean they’re already fully paid up members of the living videographic dead.
180 [..] To these unspoken ideological ends, the ancient Frostbite engine (for example) gave its full graphical support – directly providing an ‘epic feel’, direct access to a far right, ultra conservative political worldview though advanced ‘natural'(tm) lighting – creating soul stirring spasms of shocking, awe inspiring power and totalizing destruction. That is, AAAA playspace engines, not as ‘neutral’ tools, but as systems directly helping (literally) ‘render’ or directly manifest on screen and-or in eyes of players the ideology of ‘militainment’. The camera in such a space does not simply capture ‘the real’; what it grasps is the naturalized world of dominant ideology, whose function is to explain away and thus naturalize rule via Ludocapitalist spectacle.
181 [..] Ah, those fresh beautiful – dead – Battlefield mournings; note however how effortless it all is – the normalizing dance of the light in the clouds – why, one can almost smell the refined (canned) ozone of raw, All-Amerikan airdropped freedom(tm). In which there are never really any humans on view in such Hypertographic spaces – only mindless drones, darting about on fully automatic. Headless and insanely logical, aka ‘he rationalized himself to death’.
182 [..] Where multiplayer playspace servers as abandoned near future dystopian megacities, lifeless and silent, exposed as another manifestation of the insanity of the G.W.E Great War Engine – now always live and direct, online – rendered realtime as just another brainlessly enjoyable Esport from abominable global (big business) theatre – the absurdly deadening third (world) order of Baudrillardian simulacra. Warning: such freakish non places are not safe for work – or play.
183 [..] To consider how ‘Unreal Engine’ has now long officially been a literal engine of war, and is gladly hired out to the trillion dollar Military Industrial Complex to help make war simulation playspaces and scenarios, which ultimately help ‘render’ human flesh into bloody mist. Congratulations then to Epic, which has long been a literal gear of war – its Unreal Engine an officially sanctioned engine of human death and technological destruction. Nobody is talking about this because no players of / within The Great Game give a digtial shit.
184 [..] On graphical fidelity generally and the blind pursuit of T.C.R Total Cinematic Realism. David Rodowick, in The Crisis Of Political Modernism (1994, p77): “Rather than reproducing the ‘world’ spontaneously and automatically, as the ideology of realism would have the spectator believe, the cinematic apparatus always operates selectively, limiting, filtering and transforming the images that are its raw material.”
195 [..] Regarding Unreal Engine’s realistic(tm) aesthetics; it’s like a prison environment that one looks out at with the usual passive disinterest – but what one sees might belong to the prevailing i.o.r ‘ideology of realism’. To consider what being manifested on screen or ‘rendered’ as a virtual set of cultural ideas regarding the distinct non playability / non interactivity of a cold, hard symbolic environment of massive control. Such videographic play spaces featuring incredibly detail (scientifically accurate lighting effects) are often referred to as ‘tech demos’ or ‘barely interactive screen savers’ since they only allow strictly limited sets of predefined interactive possibilities, eg. ‘WASD while shooting brown foreigners in the face: press X to remotely pretend the inherent ideological violence of videographic play space can ever somehow truly be anti-war.’
196 [..] Physicist Niels Bohr: “Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” It’s almost as though the reason such a world displays such a precise, high degree of graphic fidelity, is precisely because it does not want anyone or any force to change it; such a world exists in a state of total, permanent psychic lock down. Such an environment appears one of control, or precise mechanical movement and security; the Player’s modern alienation is built into the scene, is reflected back in their exact lack of genuine options for meaningful interaction. Consider the modern, blindly aggressive pursuit of T.C.R Total Cinematic Realism in/as videographic spaces, and what might be called their ‘graphic’ fidelity – that is, the unquestioning loyalty to the seductive violence of ‘pure’ cinematic realism.
197 [..] The $9.99 ideology of videographic realism: that you (Player One) already think you know what ‘reality’ is – and that Ludocapitalism can successfully and easily render it. To meditate also on the seemingly inevitable artificial nature of aggressive, unchecked technological development. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “In giving our tears to these fictions, we have satisfied all the rights of humanity without having to give anything more of ourselves; whereas unfortunate people in person would require attention from us, relief, consolation, and work, which would involve us in their pains and would require at least the sacrifice of our indolence.”
198 [..] In addition to already being singers, dancers, actors and ‘internet personalities’ pukes slightly in mouth AAAA idols are also advertisers appearing in commercials for everything from butt purifiers to fried hiphop chicken. Conversely, videographic spaces themselves are advertisements for external products. They’ve have ended up influencing, not just pop music but advertisements, consumer products, movies, TV shows, fashion – and they in turn loop back create an entire culture that’s mainly run by just a handful of evil post Cyberpunk hypercorporations. With the iron hold of a domestic playspace economy, these companies are able to manufacture culture(tm) globally, defining what the masses deemed to be popular and therefore what money is spent on, where eyeballs are looking at (and therefore what they don’t see – which is often the massively circumscribed process of Ludocapitalist seeing i.tself.)
199 [..] The commodities circulating in such markets gain their significance, not from their inherent qualities but from their relations with each other; no reality exists outside of these relations, nor needs to. The entirety of its culture is fully manufactured because playspaces influence what is popular. Individual ‘playborers’ have next to zero autonomy, having already been swept up in the production process of the playspace themselves. This division of (into!) Labor is extremely strict and disciplined, with everyone constantly forced to push their limits, maintain market-eyeball share. Such a way of making, marketing, playing and earning a living via AAAA playspace can only be achieved by almost inhuman levels of calculation and technicality – and this is why gaming / culture is so entirely overproduced. Videographics are brighter, more saturated, the advertising budgets larger, and the emotional hooks sharper than daily existence. And all of it all delivered with extreme techno-ideological forcefulness.
200 [..] Genres, fashions, colour schemes and even dance styles are crammed into single, world spanning playspaces, fitting the visions of a multitude of people. Everything is characterised by default excess – an excess in the visual and the sonic, an excess in the corporate structures and an excess in uninterrupted colonial expansion of the public imagination. Such a worldview however can only be built on inherent contradictions: the contradictions between cheerful, carefree appearances of these ‘Big Scientists’ and strict discipline and restricted freedom of the players / researchers themselves; contradiction between confident and dependent attitudes and complete dependence on global Ludocapitalist spectacle; contradictions between political objectification and the innocent player appeals to traditional ludic values; contradictions between friendship and the industry’s complete disregard for human relationships are (literally) made flat, two-dimensional and therefore somehow perfectly normal.
201 [..] To consider the contradiction between the modern player / researcher appearing as a godly, almost all-powerful cultural icon and the reality of their near complete lack of actual creative autonomy from this enforced global control state of ‘Maximum Fun’. Knowing the suffering that underlies such bright and glamorous appearances makes it morbid – revealing the total incongruity between Ludocapitalism’s appearance, and the daily poverty of its as-lived reality of its virtuality. The immaterial basis that underlies something this excessive could only be bleak in the extreme. What the multi billionaire CEO AAAAssholes of modern Playbor succeeded in doing is exactly replicating the kind of work-as-play ethic found in sweatshops or heavy Cyberpunk industry, and applying into the industry of culture. Perhaps nowhere else will you find the (dead and dying) ‘stars’ of play so openly characterised by complete predictability, reproducability and disposability.
202 [..] To consider asking if videographic spaces are art as too often entirely (even deliberately) the wrong question. In the actual context of world spanning ludocapital, the whole ‘are videographic spaces art?’ debate seems an undead end – to which one should easily sark back ‘how is even art, art?’ (Indeed, one might argue that the truth in art only manifests, precisely when it does not and cannot conform to standardized art-industry definitions.) And yet, what’s so special about art anyway, that videographic spaces / their images have to be ‘brought up to its level’, legitimised? Who are those who get to officially pronounce its beauty and meaningfulness, if not its current owners? If one considers what the massively circumscribed Capitalist horizon of understanding considers ‘art’, then yes – videogames are indeed art, ie. an eminently tradeable commodity, where talk of aesthetics becomes another mere material cost-factor analysis, part of the global Algorithm where surface beauty directly maps onto sellability. The sheer quantifiable synthetic-nature of individual pixels, index linked to global trades, passed from blind buyer to buyer – silent, unloved sex workers.
203 [..] To consider many modern players have at some nodal point felt everything on-screen suddenly without depth or substance – no objects, just a single airless plane of strange existence. The listless boredom of a hot afternoon, watching the interfaces between – fully absorbed by light, dusty asphalt. It’s the ideology of concrete: an endless road trip desert sense without emotion, far outside dissecting analysis and common knowablilty: no symbolism –> zero time –> quiet dissolution –> to imagine more intensely / strangely-abstract andor theoretical playspace spaces.
204 [..] On ‘illusions of depth’ (in all senses) : in which it’s all about the boundaries –> ballard’s death of affect –> flatness as depthlessness –> considering videographic play space as (somehow always) two dimensional –> oldskool shaded polygons –> bilateral filtering / no noise –> that dry light seen in half life 2 –> experimental simulations in/as the deep ontological desert –> ‘edge detection’ / x-ray vision –> emergent gameplay / procedural play –> everything within the frame (existential coordinates) as an interrelated (objectless) system –> extreme ‘z buffering’ / hidden surfaces.
205 [..] To consider players are desperate for a way further in; for the next, even better thing to belong to, to believe in. Yet ‘the future of play’ carrot always seems to leave them dangling just far enough behind to keep them shuffling forward like the consumer undead. Perhaps crypto – that is, the willfully obscure, cryptic, deliberately self-obfuscating world bubble of AAAA Ludocapitalism – masquerades as a future of constant enrichment, of a perfected virtual dream – in which individual players have (somehow) outsmarted the system and profited, have found the same kind of get-cool-quick loophole they’ve heard the ultra rich use, allowing them feel as if they’re actually participating in a kind of counter-culture (deadpan: ‘because you buy it over a counter’ ba-dum tish.)
206 [..] ‘Dead MMO’ world: to consider the sense in which the shimmering virtual photographic surface images, rather than merely betray reality, needlessly and even purposefully obsfucates and mystifies the truer, even more illusionary relationship between observer or player and the spectacle of global Ludocapitalism. In which the common result is a deadening feeling of existential condemnation and abandonment to a Dead MMO world – a lifeless server, full of cosmically obsolete objects; image fragments. A patient on life support, it requires regular shocks of electricity to keep the ‘parody of appearance’ of decaying half life in place. Keep it all nice and P.C. An undead movement from nowhere to nowhere, wandering among the polygon ruins in desperate, fruitless search for meaning. Dead non-places, haunted by the unliving.
207 [..] Four arguments for the elimination of Ludocapitalism: a playabe scenario via ur-‘ludonaut’ (garme critic) Theodore ‘C4’ miles, based around Jerry Mander’s classic “Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television.” Argument one: Play, play, everywhere, nor any space to think. To paraphrase the good Dr. Thompson – “Ludocapitalism is what the whole hip world is doing, now that i.t’s won The Reality War.” To consider virtual playspaces as a normalized and seemingly universal (and therefore strictly culturally-enforced) ‘hobby.’ Where such ludic ideology, lies not in suggesting some cheap near-future sci fi dystopia where everyone is forced to play might not, or could not ever occur – but rather in constantly stating that this very reality isn’t already, and never could already be an dystopian multiplayer gaming circus, run via / played by fully automated human parodies inside a violently dull, silent electronic simulation. The situation today is already one of the following aggressive cultural injunction, disguised as an innocent conceptual provocation: “The question is, who wouldn’t want to become part of our friendly global, virtual Ludocapitalistic community?”
208 [..] Argument two: playspace as time / waste. Regarding the tautological argument that ‘virtual playspaces are a waste of time’. Rather, consider the depressing authoritarian possibility that any reality that permits, allows and actively encourages ‘AAAA gaming’ is already one based entirely on nothing but hollow excess and waste; playspaces do not ‘waste time’ as such, but are more mere expressions of the default excessive waste that is Ludocapitalist time. After all, playspaces are money and time spent in AAAA play makes mo’ money (for evil cyberpunk hypercorps.) To play in the game of Capitalist spectacle is therefore perhaps to crap out (eliminate) dead time; perhaps all that happens when netizens play, is that more wasteful-time gets generated – time spent playing (earning, grinding, conforming to the insane logic of repetitive, meaningless busywork.)
209 [..] Argument three: virtual playspaces as violent symbolic split. Regarding the false argument that ‘ludocapital make you violently playful’. Rather, violence is already present in the very concept of videographic play – the ‘brutalization of the pursuit of sensation’ as visionary author J.G. Ballard says – which is (as we know with literal war-rendering videogame engines) is a symbolic violence against people and their environment with real-world effects. (Maybe the electro-ludic essentially represents and enforces a terrible symbolic split or dualistic disjunction; that is, even to engage with the notion of modern play is to separate oneself away from the ulgy truth of the greasy lie that i.t somehow bring us all together – when in fact it merely bring us all under the same AAAA hypercorporate umbrella of Funployment.) To treat playspaces then as ontology (as a seeming way of knowing the world) is already to lost in a steamy cloud of bad ideas, posing as inevitable progress.
210 [..] Argument four: a scenario in which “virtual playspaces are art” isn’t nearly enough. Even if they are, so what? How does that help us (global Playborers) out of the deep existential shit we’re in? A friend of writer David Shields argued that “literature never saved anyone’s life.” Perhaps he’s right, but the problem is that the videographic permits, allows and encourages people’s lives to remain exactly the same; stuck at an infantile level of futile Play. Even by being ‘art’, perhaps they can’t grow, because they’re always made and played by people who are themselves ‘kidults’, willingly caught in a disturbing digital Peter Pan playground of inherently limited (videographic) imagination – a highly playful and artistic spectacle. (On need only look at the stupid, dull, condescendingly infantile and lightly brain damaged spectacle of Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, which precisely mirror’s it’s owners ideological view of the world.)
211 [..] In which Virtual Photography symbolises the abstract virtual poverty (emptiness, barely adequate structural existence, barren aridity etc.) of the everyday mundane Ludocapitalist universe.) Indeed, what exactly is being simulated in our virtual play? Perhaps it’s merely a continuation of the dark fantasy of (the apparent normality of) daily existence in the videographic realm of global Ludocapitalism, at all costs; ‘all other priorities rescinded’. In an age when the mighty Videographic industry has penetrated almost every facet of existence, it’s only and perfectly synthetically natural for the big lie of daily existence under global Ludocapitalism to continue without pause or interruption. The symbolic flow of ludic capital must be seamless; any sufficient pauses or gaps constitute an organic threat of its imposed reality, and must be countered with every more terminally boring, simulated digital ‘content’.
212 [..] Constantly smothering players with endless DLC, The Industry allows no space to think; there is only Ludospace. It’s now long been possible to wake up and go to work in virtual play. This is because the very idea that one (apparently) knows ‘its just one big, pleasant digital dream’ is baked in ideologically from the moment these things boot up. This assumption is in fact baked into their terminally dull matrix of codified ideas. If it’s all just a matter of innocent fun in the virtual sun, surely then it doesn’t matter one digital jot if the ‘people’ one meets (and works for) on one’s virtual journey to nowhere are as lifelessly plastic as the slick digital wrapping the product arrived in. What counts is merely that one is successfully plugged in – and that one stays there, perfectly content with.. not very much at all, as it happens.
213 [..] And yet, despite all this apparent and endless synthetic hypercorporate happiness infused in every bit of the modern virtual playspace, ‘why (as the song asks) does my soul feel so bad’? Why (and where) is there a widely unacknowledged, underlying feeling of dis-ease, the quietly creeping, hollow hauntedness of a glaring (ontological) void in every step one takes within this bizarrely alienated virtual city and its deliriously geeky insufficiency?
214 [..] Ludographic simulation spaces like ‘OMSI 2’ desperately need a zombie survival mode. You go into work, sign in at the depot, say Hi to teh guys, ‘talk sport’ for a while (or whatever), and then merrily go about your hyper-regular, perfectly restricted and contained, culturally normalized day of routine Work. Twilight comes however – and you immediately start getting the serious heebie jeebies. There’s also something wrong with the bus engine, because your top speed has suddenly reduced to 5mph. The last passenger to get off deep in the suburbs is about to step off the bus when he slowly turns to you and says in a horrible, half strangled voice “Drive and don’t stop. They’re coming..” An hour later and your totally lost. Your dash GPS is now no longer updating. You realize that if you stop the bus to ask for directions, the engine may die for good, and you’ll be stuck wherever the Virtual Hell this is. Passengers start to shuffle up to the bus and beat on the sides with their fists, even their heads. There’s now a distinct grey-blue tint to their skin, and they don’t blink, merely stare in your general direction, without feeling. You’re now quietly freaking out, desperate to log out of this hyperreality – but you realise you cannot. Eventually the virtual undead will storm the bus in an inexorable lava wave of rottenness, and your bloody idiot flesh will be ripped from your fear-frozen ludic bones. Running over passengers and popping their disgusting, rotting-grue oozing and moaning skulls seems to help, although you are paranoid about getting too many unliving corpses jammed under the wheel arches and thereby dragging the bus to a terrifying halt.
215 [..] In case it wasn’t entirely obvious, most ludographic play spaces are entirely devoid of meaningful meaning or true substance. At the time of writing however, the current total DLC offered by publishers comes to several million, which is some serious B.S right here. Imagine driving around every goddamn combined inch of those empty maps for months on end, trying every conceivable route in a desperate search for potential.. Whatever. ‘Fun’? At this late stage of our troubled evolution? Man, that sounds like some anal, ‘anorak’ nerd’s mundane paradise. (A paradise, precisely because it’s so humdrum and unimaginatively banal; pedestrian.) It’s not a place true imagination can enter. Only stupid and repetitive Playbor can take place ‘there’. No social boundaries that can be truly broken, it’s only a (corporate) safe sandbox for the wilfully naive to explore. Such non places are only safe and ‘relaxing’ in the sense of being drunk on superficiality, of videographic addled stupefaction. You are now an infinitely playable (manipulable) character on a stage perfectly fit for fools only. All aboard; with good line of cryptographic credit you can play there at ‘your’ leisure – but can you ever leave, when it’s an all-encompassing womb that gave birth to you, Player One?
216 [..] Modern video playspaces apparently give the player ever more realistic worlds to experience, yet they typically remain highly cultivated experiences. Cheaters, and players who operate against the logic of the system may accidentally expose strange digital-ideological phenomena. All attempts to replicate realistic spaces in game engine environments come with inherent dangers and unforseen consequences (architectural, philosophical.) This taxonomy of strange emergent behaviours that manifest as the virtual camera, allow players to navigate to the outer unseen fringes of game worlds. Czech-Brazilian philosopher Vilém Flusser’s notion of the camera as a ‘black box’ frames the inner coded workings of the virtual camera as opaque. Noclip is also a tool to unpick the logics of glitched virtual worlds, also becoming a ‘black box’. By exposing the potential disruption of the virtual video game environment, Hypertography seeks to uncover the contingency of digital space.
217 [..] The giant stage sets of modern videogame space encapsulate territories possessing edges that one may not easily transgress. Many of these playspaces show the world from the eyes of an avatar. In Hinduism, the Sanskrit term literally means descent and today signifies the immaterial appearance or incarnation of a deity on virtual earth.
218 [..] Whether to gain an advantage, or simply explore beyond the fringes of the digital world, ‘noclip’ is a command ubiquitous to first-person shooter playspaces, and can be traced back to id software’s 1993 game Doom. The code is entered using an in-game console used for development and testing. It suspends collision detection between the player’s avatar and the world – effectively making one the ghost one already is. Objects in game worlds have the property of an invisible geometric boundary, a virtual materiality. Noclip disables these collider properties.
219 [..] Certain forms of ‘counterplay’ may represent an amplification of a disruptive force across an otherwise bland, endlessly reiterative structure. Hypertography at its surface could facilitate the questioning of the alleged ideological ‘naturalism’ of the virtual world, allowing wandering exploration as a form of counterplay that remakes a game in a more free-form, exploratory manner. But it’s unlikely.
220 [..] The saving and ordering of screenshots as a primitive form of photography has been a common method of selling and displaying video playspaces since the beginnings of games as a commercial industry. They entice by composing the raw (ie. always ideologically pre-cooked) materials of a dynamic and temporal game world into another media form. Screenshot artists (aka corporate ‘Bullshotters) are now a corre part of any typical game development team, responsible for helping to sell the notion of videographic play to the public. The recording of virtual spaces through a screenshot cannot however ultimately be a transgressive act. Each screenshot capturing the represented space is always already fully mediated through the computer screen – a significant surface and two dimensional plane of ideas; meaning is embedded in it and delivered through I.T.
221 [..] Perhaps ‘Hypertography’ as a project builds upon potentially transgressive attitudes towards virtual space, extracting and transcribing its logic into a series of artefacts. But that’s highly doubtful. All of these studies are based on playspaces that utilize corporate game engines, which already ideologically regulates the rendering of objects, the simulation of physics etc. The resulting screenshots are therefore a set of strictly pre-controlled behaviours that already neutralize transgressive play and transcribe them into a series of linked architectural spaces which formalize these corporate properties, merely revealing ancient tropes, strategies and ways of viewing through the construction of Spectacular representation.
222 [..] Any resulting glitches and disruptions, therefore, take the interactive game and reframe it through an equally non-interactive media. Thus the illusion of the distance necessary to contemplate the bizarre, artificial nature of videographic playspaces is maintained at each and every step. The edges of artificial skies, spaces that dissolve into geometric light without an interiors, do not expose the ‘bizarre’ and ‘artificial’ properties of video playspaces, but rather merely enforce their ideological naturalization. Such hypercorporate spaces perfect sense precisely because they make no sense. Hypertography as a cheap hall of mirrors. The avatar is always confused as to what they should be rendering. Videographic spaces only seem to strobe, stretch and reflect. Repeated visual artefacts seen on different sides of threshold are only ever fragments of our own Balkanized confusion – a progressive distortion of delineated architectural space. I’ve no idea what was just said there, and shamelessly cribbed it off somewhere else.
223 [..] The result is that our seeing is always increasingly overexposed and unintelligible, a continuous fringing between geometry and ‘pure’ image, fluid and ever changing – a murky gloom of thick digital atmospheres, a tightrope between memory intensity and the experiential quality of game space. In short, while temporarily freezing the unstable grounds of the inherently broken game world, Hypertography and its products only ever seem to allow us to perceive the ideological contradictions in the virtual realms so many of us regularly, even willingly slave inside.
// how to play big science