April 06, 2022
I feel like everyone shares the need and urge to explore; we all feel it differently. I feel the need to explore a lot more digitally then I do in the real world, and that is what I am showcasing in these photographs. They’re not shot using a camera, instead taken using a camera tool, a glorified screenshot button. Virtually exploring means I can share environments people wouldn’t imagine they would ever see within a photograph, and with that I hope I can make people more open to virtual exploration, and reality.
I lean towards digital exploration more simply because it’s more accessible and comfortable to me. I was always the kid that wanted to be at home in my pajamas rather than going out with other kids or going to places with my family. In Christmas 2007 when I was given a Nintendo DS, that was my first instance of virtual exploration. Together with the DS I got a Pokémon game, a tiny world in my pocket which I could journey through and discover. From that point on I discovered that I much preferred the experiences I felt within virtual worlds then I did in the real world.
Now that I’m not 6 years old I’ve discovered places I like/ would like to explore in the real world. However, do I have the time or the money to explore these places by the snap of my fingers? Video games give me the opportunity to do that without breaking the bank or having to extensively plan out my journey. I get home, I press a button and I’m there. Not to mention playing a video game for a few hours a day is a lot less impactful on your carbon footprint than booking a flight around the world.
That being said, I don’t want a future where we all adopt virtual/augmented reality living spaces and live our lives within a ‘metaverse’. Go watch ‘The Matrix’ or ‘Ready Player One’ to find out why that’s a bad idea before we strap into a machine and hang NFT monkey pictures on our virtual wall spaces. Rather than the very boring, destructive and dystopian world a certain someone has tried to sell us on, I believe we could develop a future where we work in tandem with virtual reality and reality for the better development of our world and our environment.
Getting back on track, I took these photos to remember these places I visit while exploring this world, a game called Genshin Impact. A game that’s free to play with an extensive world to be explored and discovered. I also took these photos to show people that this niche exists, that photography doesn’t strictly have to be something in our real world on a real camera and instead can be something as simple as a screenshot. I’ve always had an interest in photography whether it be fashion photography or street photography, I just always struggled to drive myself to practice it, and when it came to experiencing lockdown I didn’t have much of a choice. I started to take these photos within a virtual world without the game telling me I had to do this. It felt completely natural to find these spots to photograph in the downtime between fighting monsters or unravelling the overarching plot.
I only hope that these photos inspire you, either to go into a virtual world of your choosing and photograph what you want to share within it, or to see virtual photography/video game photography in a different light. If you would like to explore the world I’ve shared within these photos you can through a computer, phone or on Playstation 4/5 consoles. Genshin Impact is available for free on all of these platforms.
By Ethan Hand, “Katfish”.