Ready Player One: Photography, Alternate Reality and Fiction

Over the course of 4 days I read Ernie Clines New York bestseller novel ‘Ready Player One’. My original intent was to tweet everything I found interesting, but this became imposible, it would have taken me months to read if I tweeted every single thing. I also found myself reading 100 or so pages at a time too immersed into the book to remember to take notes. The theme I found most interesting within the book is the idea of identity, knowing someone so well in a virtual world without ever meeting them. Once Ernie Cline made the comparison that Dungeons and Dragons was the original virtual reality it made me think about the role of this book. Like the protagonist Wade I found myself connecting with people I didn’t know. In Wade’s case they were real people but their avatars might not have represented them, but in my case I felt I became quite intimate with characters who didn’t even exists, all I knew of them was my interpretation of Clines writing. In turn this made me think about how this reflects within photography, in creating something fiction we are creating an alternate reality, wether it be through the more accepted route of gaming and films or through writing and photography. In photography we see all these genres, documentary, fine art, conceptual but why isn’t there a fiction genre like there is in writing? I guess you could argue in some cases there is, Cindy Sherman creates a series of characters all with fictional identities but you would never call her work fiction photography or an alternate reality.

 
Image above ©Cindy Sherman

Photography seems to still have this relationship with reality that it can’t get away from. I would like to over my career help separate this tie. Once you’re established as a fiction producer then you can start to think about sub genres, sci-fi, fantasy, romance etc… By all means photography is about telling a story, but who’s to say that story has to be fact?

Food for thought while I think about what’s my product, leaving university trying to find a voice as a photographer. See my book notes below, I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of anything, games, anime, tv, sci-fi.

  1. On page 16 and hooked already @erniecline #readyplayerone #erniecline #rpg #oasis http://instagr.am/p/U6U0aalDcC/
  2. “I had access to the OASIS, which was like having an escape hatch into a better reality. The OASIS kept me sane.”#readyplayerone #erniecline
  3. “A Gunter rite of passage, like a Jedi building his first lightsaber.” Wade Watts on coding his first Atari game #readyplayerone #gunter
  4. “The lines of distinction between a persons real identity and that of their avatar began to blur.” #readyplayerone #quote #oasis #erniecline
  5. “In a way, these old role-playing games had been the first virtual reality simulations.” #dungeonsandsragons #dandd #readyplayerone #quote
  6. Just finished level one. Damn this is a good book. meant to be reading it bit by bit. But just read 150 pages in one go #readyplayerone
  7. “It didn’t matter who was in charge. Those people were rearranging deck chairs in the Titanic and everyone knew it.” #readyplayerone #quote
  8. 47 pages to go. Lets do this!!! #readyplayerone #finalbattle #oasis #rpg #scifi #erniecline http://instagr.am/p/VH_V7oFDVb/

Magid Salmi – Alternate Reality

Alternate reality was an exhibition held in 2011 at Spacetaker ARC Gallery in Houston, Texas. It was a solo exhibition that displayed the work of American Photographer Magid Salmi.

The Spacetaker website describes the work of Magid Salmi and how it comments on modern society in a unique way.

Spacetaker is excited to host Alternate Reality, a solo exhibition by Houston artist Magid Salmi, as part of its ARC Exhibition Series. Salmi’suniquely constructed still life photographs feature the use of common household and perishable items to create an alternate reality which investigates the notion that what we consider strange and shocking at this point in time may become the standard of things to come.

It is within this process that he describes and encapsulates our society’s obsession with consumerism, and how prevalent technological progress has become in our daily lives. “My photographs suggest that ideas, concepts, and truths are only as pertinent as the time in which they exist,” states Salmi. Taking a humorous approach to many of his works, Salmiencourages the audience to discover their own individual connections and interpretations to the images.

On Magid Salmi’s website the series is called iTECH this name along with the consistent use of white makes a direct reference to the iconic and global brand, Apple. The browning of the bulb reminds us that these items are perishable and makes me think about how temporary modern society is, within a year or so this garlic phone will have lost it’s initial integrity and end up in the bin, much like our latest technology will be in a year. It is hard to know if this is the meaning Magid Salmi meant to convey because he provides no description to his work, and is keen to let the viewer create their own relationship with the image and the idea behind it.

It’s important to me that my work contains some sort of social commentary, but I also want to find a connection with my audience by utilizing and transforming items that everyone might be familiar with.

-Magid Salmi

Salmi’s representation of our society through an alternate reality reaffirms my idea that a photo can be constructed to become a reality in it’s own right. A portal into a non existant world, and in this case the portals purpose is meant to make us reflect on our own relationship with technology.

Lori Nix

I am often asked questions about the inspiration for my work as well as my working process. As a ‘non-traditional’ photographer (I construct my subject matter rather than go find it) people find it hard to grasp what exactly it is that I do.

-Lori Nix

http://www.lorinix.net/

When I talk about a photograph being an alternative reality this is what I mean, constructed subject matter, creating a new world in a photograph. I stumbled across Lori Nix’s work whilst doing research for another project. But that quote really jumped out at me. It’s reconfirmed to me that my idea is getting there, it just needs developing. There are other photographers who acknowledge they construct their images, they aren’t real. Even if Lori Nix’s approach might be more literal that most.