Spot the Sniper
Kayla Romberger (MFA 2013)
Two stacks of paper are presented in Spot the Sniper: one blank, the other sourced from a recent Internet phenomenon that circulates under the same title, a phenomenon that aims to test viewers' ability to identify snipers from their landscapes. The snipers are utterly impossible to see, hidden in shrouds of digital camo and leafy nests, made more impossible still by the low-res quality by which the images typically circulate. A number of websites and forums, even a video game, are dedicated to this sport, and even after the sniper is pointed out - usually by a large red circle Photoshopped on top - they remain invisible to the untrained eye. The relative unease this elicits - the inability to know whether one has been duped; the realization that snipers might be hidden in plain site; the impulse to trade amateur spotting for expert - is, for me, the perfect metaphor: it explains the way mystery and the promise of reward propel unstable relationships between imagination and reality. Mirroring one another in size and stature, the two stacks evoke a similar sense of frustration, humor, and even terror. They are both nothing and something; they point to the artifice of the image and the relationship between image and object; and they present two sides of the same coin, the camouflage of mere ordinary-ness, the other digital realness.
This work is featured as part of the 2016 Alumni Exhibition: “Horror Vacui”, on display from July 19 - August 6, 2016 at the Argus II Building in Ann Arbor. Check the exhibition page for dates, times, and hours.