3-D Photographer Eric Durcholz exhibits playful new work

There's a current debate raging whether videogames are art. Interestingly, two gay men at the forefront of the debate are Clive Barker and Roger Ebert. Barker says games are art, Ebert disagrees. But three-dimensional pictures of men playing games and posing with gaming equipment...is that art?

"It's most definitely art," says Eric Durchholz, the photographer behind a series of 3-D events in the Nashville area. "It's an exhibit of 3-D photography featuring gamer/geek culture but remixed with classic male imagery."

Blending futuristic 3D tech with with images from gaming's past would be enough to make this exhibit remarkable. Adding a gloss of male imagery makes the new show something unique in the universe. And it's happening in Nashville at Tribe on Oct. 2, at 6:00 p.m.

Last October's show at Tribe and the one at Lucky's Garage in March served as introduction to his work that continues with GAMEBOYS. It's the first of his shows to take an idea and build pieces around it.

"My past shows were just random pictures I had taken. I just cherry-picked what I believed to be the best ones. All in all, I've displayed just a fraction of the work I've actually done. And I am excited to do a show based on two things I love very much: games and dudes."

Viewers can get a hefty sample of his work with the release of Hardcover Coffeetable Book Type Thing, a 148-page 3D book full of indefinable moments about indefinable people. "I learned the craft of 3D with those people so this is like a giant love letter to them...many of them I will never see again." Copies of the book will be available at the exhibit.

For Durchholz, gaming is sexy. He considers himself a hardcore gamer. "I don't watch much television, nor do I read many books. I do play a lot of games and most of my gay friends play games and I wanted to reflect some of that culture into my work. Most people are shocked to hear that gay guys play games. In my world, gaming and gay go hand in hand, and I realize that not everyone sees that way. Hopefully this exhibit can help change the perception that just straight teenage males play games and some games with specifically gay content will start to be developed."

But the question is would a straight guy play a gay character? What would a gay game look like?

Durchholz says: "If a guy has played any Final Fantasy, he already has. Seriously, if the game is fun it won't matter what sexuality the character is. Being gay is a completely different experience than being straight. So a game would have to take that into account. Maybe a game set in a gay environment. Like GTA using circuit parties as settings. I think the movie Cruising (1980) would make a compelling game."

As for the type of games he likes, Durchholz says he has always liked Nintendo. "Everyone likes them. The DS is the most fun I've ever had with a system. Although I am dying to play Bioshock, I will grab Metroid Prime Corruption soon. "

The genesis for this project began with parties. "I started taking pictures for this exhibit almost a year ago during parties or just hanging out with my friends. And many of the guys in the shots are my friends. We'd get a few beers in us and then I would pull out the cameras. I would position the cameras in front of the television and made the point-of-view from there. When you look at the images, you see what the television sees."

GAMEBOYS continues Durchholz' obsession of re-imagining his youth without the homophobia that he felt held him back. "I didn't do things because I didn't want people to find out I was gay. I didn't speak up when I wanted to go to film school and was persuaded to do otherwise. I didn't demand happiness for myself because I felt I didn't deserve it. There is a lot of homoephobia in the gaming world, and that's why I've stayed away from Xbox Live."

In 2006, Durchholz started exhibiting his experimental 3D work in a Chattanooga gallery and was astounded by the amount of attention it received. "For years I had been writing and this photography thing came out of left field. And it was the first thing that people really wanted from me without having to force it down their throats."

For this new exhibit Durchholz is using several different types of technology and techniques to execute the pieces. "These aren't going to be just pictures in a frame," he says. "I secured a bunch of televisions from the eighties and they've been dismantled to serve as frames for the art. It's like looking at a reflection in the television. Like looking into the past at guys playing video games."

There will be several game-inspired pieces on display as well. "There are nods to everything from Pokemon to Silent Hill to lolcats. It's going to be a gay gamer's wet dream."

Durchholz plans to have at least 20 original pieces including some non-3D work. "It will all revolve around gaming culture with a focus on the male figure."

In March, Durchholz may bring his unique 3D vision to South By Southwest. "I've spoken at the conference before regarding my work with webcams, and now they've opened up the panel selection process for voting. If I get enough votes, I'll be speaking and hopefully do an associated exhibit at a gay club in Austin."

The GAMEBOYS show debuts at Tribe on Oct. 2, with an opening reception from 6-10 p.m. The show will run for two weeks.

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