March 15, 2010

Paintball colors view of war

The final exhibition of “The Lucid Eye: A Year of Photography at Emory, 2009-2010” is “Play War,” Ruth Dusseault’s ongoing series of pictures about the subculture of paintball in suburbia, and the form of mock-war it represents.

Dusseault, an acclaimed artist who teaches photography at Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture, explores paintball’s unusual architectural environments, which range from makeshift props in semi-forested locations to elaborate commercial venues with professionally designed sets. With use, these environments become beguiling sculptural installations whose intense and entropic colors form a peculiar sort of fauvist camouflage.

Her portraits of the paintball players — mostly young men donning protective face gear and sometimes elaborate costumes, carrying weapons resembling machine guns that are designed to expel pellets of paint with great force, engaged in strategic games that mimic hunting and military warfare — leave the viewer to decide whether we are looking at harmless play in artfully-designed environments, or a sinister fascination with war expressed through a not-quite-comic form of aesthetic excess.

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Related Information

  • “Play War” opens at the Visual Arts Gallery on Thursday, March 18 with a reception at 5 p.m. and an artist’s talk at 7 p.m. and runs through April 23.