The history of photography is chock full of singular, memorable images, ones that distill an event or thought in a camera click. You know, a picture worth words by the thousands. More often, it takes multiple good pictures to really tell a story. Case in point: “Play War: Homemade Recreational Battlefields,” from a work-in-progress series by Ruth Dusseault at Hagedorn Foundation Gallery.
The Atlanta artist has traveled around the region taking photos of Paintball arenas and the people who play this battle game. Some of the photos focus on the “sets” for sometimes elaborate fantasy wars — an army tank made of plywood, an overturned water tank that becomes a fort — and the creative energy they represent. Dusseault also makes portraits of rifle-toting players in their army camouflage and protective goggles.
The photos, especially the architectural ones, are strong visually. Yet they need each other to give them meaning. Or meanings. Like Paul Shambroom, whose photos of high-security military sites and the like were shown last fall at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Dusseault plays the dispassionate sociologist. Is this high-developed war game merely a product of X and Y chromosomes, or a symptom of American culture? Harmless release of aggression, or instigator of real-life violence?
This project has the makings of a book.