As technology advances and our lives grow more and more digital, the barrier between our physical world and the virtual one grows increasingly blurred. As videogame graphics venture further into the dark lands of the uncanny valley, it seems only consequential that a photographer would eventually utilize in-game screenshots to juxtapose them against our physical world.
That’s what photographer Ollie Ma’ of Buckinghamshire, England has done, having captured the thematic emotions of disconnect in his photography. In his latest project, “Open World,” Ma’ couples in-game screenshots of the lush landscapes and characters within Grand Theft Auto V (2013), alongside real-life, similarly framed photos. In a description for the photobook compilation of the project, Ma’ writes, “In contemporary society, the digital world pervades the physical to such an extent that any distinction between the two is obsolete. The simulated environments of open world video games illustrate the interchangeability between the virtual and the everyday.”
Ma’s past projects include “Home,” a photographic series illustrating youth dissatisfaction within the town of Great Kingshill in Buckinghamshire. The series explores the tribulations of small town claustrophobia and its sense of disconnect from the outside world within young people. Ma’s watchful eye carries over into “Open World.” This time focusing on the sense of longing that unveils from the game’s virtual avatars, and their disconnect between the digital and physical world. Actively bending what we as viewers perceive as “real.”
Ma’s unsettling project regarding the dissolution of the digital and physical divide amplifies this seedy reality. Especially in pairing our world with one of the most illustrious and life-like of open world games. It’s another example of our everyday lives going virtual—whether we like it or not.
Order one of only 10 copies of Ollie Ma’s photobook for “Open World” here.