Elegy: GTA USA Gun Homicides
CW: animated graphic violence
This project is a self-playing version of Grand Theft Auto V that performs as a data visualization for “a daily reenactment of the total number of USA gun homicides since January 1st, 2018.” One interacts with this work by watching the 24/7 live stream on Twitch. As the camera slowly pans backwards, one sees characters in the video game killing each other every few minutes (or more often I guess depending in the day) as a way of marking something that can feel invisible. Elegy is challenging to watch (even though generally I do not find first person shooters to be that triggering). The mix of mediums – i.e. real gun violence vs. video game gun violence vs. statistics on gun violence – presented in a never-ending slow scroll to chill-but-patriotic music creates a performance with the viewer that forces into being a complex and unanswerable dialectic around the reality of the large number of gun homicides in the USA and the apparent impossibility of change. This complication of data is what I find to be the most fruitful aspect of the work for me. I find the work’s attempt to repurpose material observations about our reality – and communicate them in familiar cultural forms in order to visualize the political nature of data – helpful and inspiring.