Created by Hugo Arcier, 11 Executions is a recreation of scenes of terror and violence within Grand Theft Auto V. Inspired by Alan Clarke’s short film Elephant (1989), Hugo uses similar cinematography and long takes to stage scenes of modern terrorism including those recently seen in Turkey and Paris, putting the viewer in the role of observer.
It is for the artist a way to use the power of simulation of video game and try to clear up the motivation of these incomprehensible acts. Here is the device: in each video one execution of one or more civilian is committed, the reactions are generated by the AI of the game. The artist does not have any control on these reactions and also do not know by advance who will be killed. Each scene (same killer, same place) is done twice in order to show the horror of coincidence and randomness.
Project ties nicely into a longer tradition of using games as ‘lenses’ for historical re-enactments or the consideration of alternate histories. Traffic Games’ infamous JFK: Reloaded (2004) allowed players to try to re-create Lee Harvey Oswald’s famous shot(s) to test out the findings of the Warren commission; more recently, the convicted Panamanian drug trafficker Manuel Noriega sued Activision over the use of his likeness (he was repurposed into the game’s narrative as a villain) in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Hugo’s dispassionate scenes tread similar terrain and there is something particularly chilling about watching the full 35min of the video, we definitely invite you to do so – pay attention to the details.
11 Executions was presented at “Si vis pacem, para bellum” exhibition at Plateforme Paris Gallery back in November 2015.