Alan Butler (IE)


Down and Out in Los Santos, 2015-ongoing
Photographic series and sculptural elements (variable dimensions)

The Grand Theft Auto franchise paints a twisted parody of the American Dream. Its characters’ lives are shaped by a marked lack (or excess) of wealth or opportunity as well as dysfunctional social relationships. This is undercut by a tongue-in-cheek critique of mass capitalism, bringing into focus those most marginalised by the ever deepening economic divide.


Alan Butler’s photographs are created by exploiting a smartphone camera feature within Grand Theft Auto V. Players can put away guns and knives, and instead take photos within the game world. Using this environment as an experimental field, Down and Out in Los Santos documents the plight of the homeless and impoverished within the game. As Butler notes, these non-playable characters (NPCs) “never intersect with the narrative”, but rather are just there in the background. Like the protagonists, they appear to be “programmed to self-identify”: they seek out others like themselves, trapped in an inescapable situation.

Alan Butler (b. 1981) is a Dublin-based artist. His work often conceptually reflects and refracts the inner workings of the internet, the implications of new media technology, and the politics of appropriation.


Courtesy of the artist.