The Gun Violence Archive (GVA) is an online archive that tracks incidents of gun violence collected from over 7,500 daily sources, from law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources, in an effort to provide data in real time on cases of violence with firearms. The GVA is an independent data collection and research group that is not affiliated with any advocacy organization. American artist Joseph Delappe used publicly shared data from the archive to create a performance in the GTA V game space (Rockstar, 2013) to track the number of gun violence incidents in the United States inside the time span of one year, from 4 July 2018 to 4 July 2019. Elegy (2018-2019) is a game mod in which the artist, by modifying the original game, transforms it to count the daily accidents caused by firearms.

The mod is linked to the online archive and displays through the video game the statistics of deaths caused by firearms in the United States in 2018, starting from January 1st. DeLappe also takes up the videogame logic, such as the score, which in videogame performance is represented by the macabre count of the dead: this starts from zero every midnight until reaching the highest score at the end of the day, the so-called high score. As of 4 July 2018, the number of gun killings reached about 7,293 cases, but in the end it reached around 15,000. Elegy was broadcast live on Twitch.tv twenty-four hours a day until the 4th of July 2019, and is accompanied by a looped soundtrack, the first radio recording of Irving Berlin’s song, God Bless America (1918), in the Kate Smith version of 1938. While the streets of Los Santos are raging to death, there are bodies piled up everywhere, and the few who have managed to survive run away, the shots of the guns are almost muffled by the voice of Kate Smith singing “God bless America and all the beautiful people in it“, leaving a sense of melancholy and malaise.

DeLappe’s intervention constitutes a pilot project to explore the ways of displaying data through the video game. If Rockstar’s game has always been criticized for the gratuitous violence with which the player can entertain himself, the artist substitutes the fictitious simulation of violence with firearms of the playful experience with the real one, thus becoming an act of denunciation towards a situation that characterizes the social problems of the USA. The videogame environment is no longer a representation of a sweetened and playful version of reality, but becomes a mirror of the present of a country that, even in the face of evidence, still decides not to intervene to regulate the use and above all the access to weapons from fire.


Joseph Delappe
Elagy: GTA USA Gun Homocide, 2018-2019
Game mod, live streaming, color, sound, variable duration
In collaboration with Albert Elwin and Biome Collective, project manager James Wood