In 1987, Italian photographer Fabio Ponzio embarked on a photographic odyssey across Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. He began his journey in Istanbul, Turkey and later made his way through Romania, Hungary, and other countries, equipped with a Leica, three Nikons and 100 rolls of film, as the Soviet Block started to crumble, first slowly then suddenly. His travelogue was eventually published in a book titled East of Nowhere.
In 2020, Italian photographer Leonardo Magrelli collected a series of images of Grand Theft Auto V's Los Santos from the web. He found these images on Instagram, Flickr, blogs and so on and then edited, cropped and turned them to black and white. In April 2021, these images - the outcome of another kind of travelogue, one that didn't require any physical movement - were published in a book titled West of Here: LA Landscapes and Grand Theft Auto. Interestingly, Magrelli's blatant and ironic act of appropriation and recontextualization was criticized by several game photographers that found their images reproduced in a book without their consent or even knowledge. And yet, all in-game photography is, itself, an act of appropriation and recontextualization as photographers do not own the rights of the digital spaces they are reproducing. In short, the game photographers got pwned by Magrelli, the Richard Prince of virtual photography.
Interestingly, the official book page features the following disclaimer, casting the project as "fandom":
This book represents a tribute to the well-known Grand Theft Auto V video game, published by Rockstar Games, the legitimate owner of all rights. As a fan artwork, all the profits deriving from the sale are exclusively intended to cover the production costs of the limited run edition.
Born in Rome in 1989, Leonardo Magrelli holds a BA in Design and Architecture from “La Sapienza” university in Rome. In 2010, he began collaborating with Rome’s International Photography Festival and with the photography publishing house, Punctum Press. In 2014, he began primarily focusing on his own personal work. His works have been published in several printed and online photography magazines, and they have been displayed in collective exhibitions and festivals. In 2017, he became part of the collective, Vaste Programme, together with Giulia Vigna and Alessandro Tini.
LINK: Leonardo Magrelli