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Travels: A Photographic Landscape Show

Travels: A Photographic Landscape Show

 

Travels: A Photographic Landscape Show is a series of screenshot photography installations that reimagine photographic history and it's intersection with the sprawling digital realms of Massive Multiplayer Online Video Games such as World of Warcraft. In these Tolkien-tinged servers, tens of thousands of people adventure together in a fantastical landscape to explore dungeons and fight monsters. Some versions of the installation of Travels feature works that are printed in traditional platinum and gelatin silver processes from laser-burned negatives and displayed hanging from trees outdoors lit by lanterns, other versions combine faux-cyanotypes of in-game cemeteries draped from fake trees. Some mix 35mm images from fan conventions with gathering places in the online town-hubs, while an entirely novel iteration was staged in the Art Mecho Museum, Williams College's virtual museum in Second Life, itself another of these immersive digital worlds.

At the core of each iteration of Travels are screenshot photographs were captured during my adventures in the frontiers of WoW, much like a 2000's update of landscape photogaphers such as Timothy O'Sullivan or William Henry Jackson (who, in the later decades of the 1800s, photographically explored the same American West where my computer would sit as I quested through WoW's Azeroth.) In an echo the vision of Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny overlaid on the American landscape by these historical photographers, the visual tropes and aesthetic language used in the construction of WoW's landscape 150 years later is in no small part derived from these Imperialist, Orientalist and Colonial forms. The landscape in both is portrayed primarily a place to venture forth in search of fame, novelty, and wealth, and to take it by any means necessary. This project draws these two times and places together by confusing their twined discourses, and their many hidden assertions of value, at the nexus of what is now termed "fine art photography."