In March 2020, the Italian-Swiss photographer Pascal Greco had planned a trip to Iceland to conclude his No Cliché photographic project, the aim of which was to propose an unusual imagery by distancing himself from the usual representations. After the COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably blocked his journey, Pascal Greco finds in the video game Death Stranding (Kojima Production, 2019) an interesting turning point to virtually investigate the Icelandic landscape through the surprisingly plausible videogame environment.

Using the game and its constraints as a testing ground, I embarked on a meticulous and at the same time playful photographic process, translating my approach to photography into the creation of digital images. In the same way that my Polaroids had previously challenged stereotyped representations of the country, the resulting images frame aspects of the landscape that usually remain invisible”.

The photographic mode, called photo mode, of Death Stranding allows you to manipulate some of the parameters that can be found in modern cameras, such as aperture, zoom, depth, and to use some typical post production tools, such as contrast and saturation, all within the game environment. The hyper-real landscape of the video game and the range of possible variations that the in-game camera makes available, thus create an interesting superimposition of complementary reality planes. The work selected from the entire series depicts a verdant mountainous landscape, characterized by rugged dark, almost black rocks scattered throughout the ridge. Are we observing a videogame space or the incredible volcanic formations that characterize the Dimmuborgir area? Or are we approaching the spectacular Selfoss waterfalls? Reality and fiction are so interchangeable as to deceive even the most attentive eye. The videogame landscape becomes a mirror of the Icelandic one and, with his photographic reportage, Pascal Greco plays on the relationship between reality and simulation, redefining the very concept of place between videogame, digital and analog worlds. Removing the characterizing elements of the video game from the scene, such as the signs of destruction of a cataclysm that hit the earth or the efforts of the protagonist, the artist focuses on the mystical aura that the digital landscape shares with Iceland, rendering almost impossible to distinguish the two different planes of reality.

Place(s) showing a naturalistic landscape in which, between the rocks and moss that characterize the Icelandic landscape, a delicate morning light makes its way, questions the photograph itself understood both as a mimesis and as a representation of the play environment. Place(s) becomes the place where the two concepts meet and intertwine to formulate a new visual culture.


Pascal Greco
Place(s), 2021
Photographic series, courtesy the artist