Galvez: An imaginary Photoshopped city

Behold the city of Galvez: An imaginary urb created by Oscar Guzmán, who did some trippy Photoshopping on sixteen real-life photographs. As he describes it:

Despite having characteristics of a photographic record, the images of Galvez don’t have and never have had a counterpart in the physical world.

The photographic document is a record that remits us to a point in space and time, that is, it’s an index. Therefore, the index of Galvez remits us to the reality of imagination. In this way, Galvez acquires its right to be considered a document of Reality, making it evident the impossibility to create frontiers between the real and the imaginary.

A little mangled, but you get the idea. It reminds me of the visual aesthetic of Riven — a video game that consisted of nothing but static pictures of a world, created via CGI and photomanipulations. I actually wish there were more art projects like this, or at least more games like Riven, because the have a Dali-esque dreamlike quality that really spooks me, in a good way. Indeed, the stationary nature of the images in Riven were a chief part of the game’s allure: They invited you to study each scene closely, in a way that few modern games ever do. Even the most articulated 3D games never quite encourage this scrutiny, because you’re too busy roaming around to sit still for long enough to drink in a scene. In Riven — or with Galvez — the fun is in staring closely at each vista and drinking in the weirdness.

That’s what made the occasional animations in Riven — and in Galvez — so startling: It felt like a picture that had suddenly come to life. I remember when I was walking through the forest in Riven, then turned around and saw a little girl staring at me, who abruptly fled. I nearly jumped out of my skin.

(Thanks to Erik Weissengruber for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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