There is a curious and complex relationship between film and photography. Film theorist Peter Wollen describes the two arts respectively as fire and ice. While films are “all light and shadow, incessant motion, transience, flicker,” photographs freeze their subjects in place (“Fire and Ice”, Photographies 4, April 1984). As Wollen describes them, “photographs appear as devices for stopping time and preserving fragments of the past, like flies in amber.” Within film, the depiction of photographs creates a bizarre linkage between stillness and movement. Video games that use cameras as a core mechanic also create a strange paradox that alters the relationship between player and game world.
For a photographer gazing through a viewfinder, reality is mediated by the camera. Some describe a distancing sensation, one in which the photographer is disengaged from a situation. For many, this phenomenon raises ethical concerns. The oft cited case of Marc Halevi, who captured on film a woman being swept out to sea while merely observing a failed rescue attempt, is a prime example. Paradoxically, the same dissociating effect of observing the real world through a camera envelops and immerses players in a game world.