Grand Theft Auto V is one of the most popular video games of all time, played by millions across the globe, it has generated many controversies related to the game’s known themes around gang violence, car theft and racial stereotypes.With the release of each new version, artist Andy Hughes noticed how changes in the rendering of the seascape and landscape seemed to mirror wider societal awareness of pollution issues including plastic waste and global heating. Could the increasing presence of trash and other visible pollution, traces of climate change discourse (and its denial) within the game be a sign of an environmental subtext?
This is just one of the potential strands of research and thinking behind Plastic Scoop, an innovative new film created by artist Andy Hughes and Dr Mandy Bloomfield, Associate Professor in English at the University of Plymouth.
Through discussion and workshops with undergraduate and postgraduate students in English and Geography, the film was co-developed through the exchange of ideas and concepts from ecopoetics and literature. The film explores the complex relationships between plastic, nature, the ‘real’ and the virtual. It features gleaned archival material and cinema footage from early ocean exploration, NASA archives, 1950’s advertising and information films combined with the artist’s studio-recorded directed in-game machinima. In researching the film, Hughes and Bloomfield held a series of focus groups and film viewings with English students to gain an understanding of how different people viewed the game footage and to invite input from an informed audience.
A YouTube channel and Instagram feed has been set up and over the coming months this channel and other social media will be populated with further clips and mini-video vignettes from outtakes of the film. The film will be submitted to several Avant-Garde and creative film festivals through 2019/2020. A set of C-Type prints were also produced and presented to the Sustainable Earth Institute.