View of “Okaytopia,” 2016; Tecco Photo Matte Triptych

New Horizons

Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg, 2016

An instructive tale from the killing fields of the Syrian Civil War. A propaganda film produced by the Ahrar al-Sham militia group used GoPro head cameras and drones to create a clip called ‘’Rage Wind’’. The video’s aesthetic was explicitly patterned on the style of first person video shooter games, giving the viewer a direct look at a battle from a fighter’s perspective. This convergence of video games and war is not novel. For example, the controls of the US Air Forces assassination drones are modeled after those of the Playstation. But what is especially telling, as the journalist Murtaza Hussain observes, is that the video deliberately breaks the forth wall. Rather than trying to create a seamless impression of raw reality, it includes behind the scenes footage of the preparations for filming. How different this is from war propaganda in the last century, which aimed to engender the illusion of total authenticity. War newsreels were filmed after combat to give an illusion of documentary realism. By contrast, in 2016, the staging of reality is actively highlighted. On a cultural level, we see an increased malleability, or plasticity of everyday life. This sense of reality being modeled like clay is intensified by the interactions of physical space and computer technology. Increasingly, the virtual is layered onto movement. Cities are navigated with GPS and experiences are filtered through social media. Daily life in a contemporary South African city is characterised by sediments of information and recording- home made adverts, designed with off the shelf software, surveillance footage and camera phones all intersecting. Two dimensional image atop two dimensional image.

Centre: View of “New Horizons, 2016; Video Duration 2 min 45 sec