The title Action Half Life is borrowed from an existing computer game. Its heroes are teenagers from modeling agencies, selected in a casting call consisting of more than 500 candidates. Its landscapes are from the Sinai desert, which could have served as the location for yet another episode of Star Wars. Its firearms, specifically created in 3D Max and other well-known applications, are known to have performed outstandingly well in previous virtual wars.
Violence is spectacular. Visual violence extends from the fantasy of the hero to the reverie of the foe, the expression of a battle, and the glory of victory until it reaches an almost erotic intensity between the killer and the victim. Viewers may feel a vulgar sense of pleasure from a foe's blood or simply the cruelty of a war's horror and filth, which stains both the victor and victim, while indulging in the creation of the idea of a "clean war" and the function "GORE MODE: OFF" in a computer game.
All our young heroes are victors in a virtual world. Their enemy is absent; pain and agony are forbidden, according to the rules of the game. They are the pure manifestation of heroism in a world of a glimmering reality.
(Tatiana Arzomasova, Lev Evzovich, Vladimir Fridkes and Evgeny Svyatsky)
Excerpt from the FOTOFEST2006 catalogue.
AES+F Last Action Half Life
Action Half Life and Last Riot deals with questions of heroism in an age when heroism is depicted in movies, television, and video games; a virtual world passively accepted by its participants. Large scale digital collages are created featuring children, selected from model agencies, engaged in fictional battles in the desert. Their expressions are blasé, nonchalantly trekking through dunes with shining bazookas while fighter jets scream through the blue skies. The images are reminiscent of the war video game, and increasingly the actual war, in which a child or adult, can play the role of hero, blasting their enemy from the comfort of their home.
Three Moscow-born artists Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, and Evgeny Svyatsky formed the group AES in 1987. Their first exhibition abroad was in 1989 at Howard Yezersky Gallery in Boston. Since that time, works by AES have been shown in Russia and Europe at festivals, museums, and galleries. Photographer Vladimir Fridkes joined the group in 1995, and the name changed to AES+F. AES+F focuses on photo- and computer-based and video art, as well as other traditional media, such as drawing, painting, and sculpture. AES/AES+F have exhibited widely at several biennials and in a large number of important group and solo shows worldwide; their work is in the collections of major Russian national museums as well as museums in Europe, including the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; Moscow House of Photography; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; La Maison Europ éenne de la Photographie, Paris; les Abattoirs, Toulouse, France; FNAC, Paris; and Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris.