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Essay: An art piece on an image from the videogame sleeve Destiny

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  • Subject area(s): Photography and arts essays
  • Reading time: 2 minutes
  • Price: Free download
  • Published: 11 October 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 350 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 2 (approx)

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The foundation for my piece, ‘Density,’ is a scanned image of the sleeve insert for the videogame, Destiny (Bungie, 2014). A little background on the game is necessary to understand the piece. The game is a first person shooter that takes place in the far future on a nearly destroyed planet earth. The central mechanic of the game is shooting aliens of one variety or another. Destiny is either loved or hated by many. The gameplay is highly engaging, many say addicting, but the story elements to the game are somewhat lacking. The game has been heavily critiqued for not having a dense enough storyline or enough variety to the gameplay. The goal of ‘Density’ was to expose some of these thoughts on the game, and videogames as a whole, while maintaining the original artistry and appearance of the game cover, using the style of d??tournement, culture jamming, and anagrams.
D??tournement was a style of art used to reroute or hijack (as the French word can be defined) the meaning of a piece. Its beginnings lie with the Letterist International group, formed in Paris during the 1950s. This group of theorists and artists, which would later become the Situationist International, could be compared to the Beat Generation in America for its creativity and revolutionary ideals. D??tournement, as originally used by the Letterist International, was ‘a technique of reutilizing plagiarized material (literary, artistic, cinematic, etc.) for a new and usually radical purpose’ (Wikipedia). In ‘Density,’ I use the materials usually used to sell and market a videogame, and alter their meaning, subtly adding my own commentary.
When Destiny was marketed prerelease, it was portrayed as having an epic story, featuring game changing mechanics and visuals. According to Activision, the game’s publisher, it was the “most preordered new video game IP in history” (Makuch, 2014). This was prime material for culture jamming, a technique often used by anti-consumerist movements. These movements sometimes create art that comments on media, corporations, and cultural institutions, hoping to bring to light the methods commercialized America uses to continue to influence dominance upon consumers.

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