Kara Güt: Wayshrines

“Wayshrines is a result of research in various digital spaces”

K: I think in some ways Wayshrines was a rough draft for things that I’m doing now.  My current work is maybe a fuller realization of the ideas I was considering when I made the video.  I was doing the research and making Wayshrines at literally the same time. This is maybe why it felt so immediate and expressive.


C: And now that you’ve had more time to sit with the research do you think it’s changing?

K: Mhm.  Although at the time, I was able to be more emotional in the video, because i didn’t have time to think about. It was more “I’m going to take this conversation, or this screenshot from the video I’m watching right now, or this article that just came out this hacker that executed inside the game**.” It was off the cuff and it all congealed.


C: I still don’t understand why they “executed” him.

K: Because he’s a hacker. I can get the article if you want… ** “R.I.P. Dark Side” “Video game hacker punished by company — with his character’s public execution” “Video game execution watched by 325,000 players”

** https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/08/video-game-execution-guild-wars-2-arena-net

His name was Dark Side. People were trying to make it into this big deal. It was the first in game execution, and it was kind of making fun of real executions, which are really fucking serious, and this is not. People were trying to say that this digital execution is the next step in execution, which is just NO.
It’s just the fact that the company that created the game decided to remove a player, and their character, from the game.

“After multiple reports that a player was using hacks to easily win player-versus-player battles in Guild Wars 2, game maker ArenaNet came to the only logical conclusion: execution.


This involved a public stripping, and forced suicide for the character within the game. Behind the scenes, ArenaNet was deleting the character completely, along with the hacker’s other accounts, from the server. It was just composed of 0s and 1s, of course — but this strange form of capital punishment sent no less of a message for it.”
So it’s the fact that it was public. It’s absurd.

J: It’s serious. Sorry if you’re recording.

K: We are.

C: It’s serious? Why?

J: Cheating in big games like that, you get such a huge advantage. It would be like if someone hacked into Dark Souls and started cheating, they would shut you down immediately.

K: It’s not a real execution.

J: No, but for a Hacker to lose their identity…

K: But you have to go into it knowing that there’s a risk. That’s the point, you’re playing with your own life. I think my problem with it is that it is listed as an execution instead of saying “this hacker was shut down and humiliated for the first time in public game play.”

C: A person wrapped up in their online identity had that taken.

K: That’s why i wanted to use it. It’s the perpetual death reference joke that runs throughout the video.

Screen Shot 2016-09-27 at 9.29.26 PM

K: There’s a guy looking at the TV, looking at the TV, looking at the TV… It actually went way further but I couldn’t get it in time. In the call room they had a video of the call room. You could just look into the abyss right before you go win a gold medal that just seems like a lot.


C: Hi cat.

K: Hiiiii

C: Are you going to come into my lap?

K: No.

K: Maybe.

K: Oh the other day she deleted my desktop. She did this and it went into… [Gasp]

K: She did it again!


K: When the cat deletes your desktop

C: I’ve been thinking a lot about the flames in the new video.

K: They are in Wayshrines, and the new video, I’m on Fire.  I built a funeral pyre out of pallets and painted them white, so they were clean looking. And made a digital fire screen saver on this screen and a paragraph of the first lines of “I’m on fire.” Should i say it?


C: Yeah, you should read it.

K: OK “Hey little girl is your daddy home, did he go and leave you all alone?”

I’m always making these puns that are funny to me.  I’m always thinking a lot about the representation of fire.  In the book I’m reading, “Girlhood and the Plastic Image”, she puts it really well.  She’s talking about Sergei Eisenstein.
“Eisenstein’s writings establish a strong associative relationship between plasmaticness and feminized, infantilized, raced, and nonhuman bodies…Following repeated comparisons between plasmatic forms and the ‘eternally changeable’ dance of flames (which magnetizes the viewer with the ‘variability of its living forms’), he claims that obsession with fire is especially common among ‘young girls in the period of Pubertat.’ ‘In their blood burns the fire of desires,’ he quotes from an uncited source, arguing for the consonance between the girl’s psychological/affective state and the images-in-motion that she both contains and observes.” (p.34-35, Heather Warren-Crow, Girlhood and the Plastic Image)

C: Question about your modding videos. Have those gotten picked up my the modding community?

K: No, I don’t have an audience in the same way that I do with Baby Peach.  Peach’s channel is populated by users who sexualize her and are eager to interact.  But i did add a bunch of new videos to Vimeo, but so far they’re rough drafts. And this isn’t really so impressive to someone who’s modding. The recording isn’t the highest quality.

C: it looks pretty good

K: yeah it’s 720


C: Are you interested at all in entering the modding community in a similar way to entering the crush fetish community like you did with Baby Peach?

K: Well with that community I was on the outside looking in and using a two-dimensional character to enter into that world. This community, I could get down with this, I can mod, I am modding. I’m interested in changing the game, personalizing it. With crushing, I’m personally not interested in feet. It was all about the metaphor and the implied sexual act. It was about concealing it, repressing it, but also bringing it forward. The modding is a community about personalizing something that you love, personalizing games.


C: Have you talked to the modders?

K: No, I don’t really interact with anyone. I want to be part of the community in that I’m doing the same activity, but I don’t have anything to share yet. I would love to make a mod, and then could share it with people, and know that they are using it, or at least interested in seeing what it does. But until then I’m just downloading mods.

C: You’re learning the back sides of games then right?

K: Well, I’m not there yet. Modding is hard enough.

C: What are your favorite games?

K: My favorite games, Skyrim—obviously—I was playing Trine II a lot, but that’s a puzzle game—basically I like all puzzle games. Nancy Drew is still a great game, it’s just a click through, but still so effective in my opinion.  I loved Myst and Riven growing up.

C: How do you feel about Fallout?

K: Oh yeah, Fallout’s cool, I’m just playing through it.  I’m not sure about it. Fallout’s just reality.

C: Do you like Skyrim more than Fallout

K: Hell yeah

C: Why?


K: Well, it was  the first time I encountered something like that. So I’m sure if I played Fallout first I would have been like, ”Holy shit this is crazy.”… when I first started Skyrim, I didn’t even know how to use the controller—i mean, I was just like you when I started…

C: Yeah I was really bad when I started

K: Because I was used to playing Spyro, Crash Bandicoot,, and that’s about it so, it was my first encounter with exploration games and so now I’m bored by it kind of, but before I was enthralled.

C: I just really like the magic aspect of it

K: And the magic, I mean obviously, Lord of the Rings I fucking love—and I wanted to do my Fulbright about going to New Zealand and larping with actually Elijah Wood. I was going to call Elijah Wood and be like “Hey, so I got this Fulbright, which is, like, why I’m legitimate and i’m not gonna stalk you—and we’re going to go New Zealand and we’re gonna dress you up as you and I don’t’ know who I’m gonna be but I’m gonna make that up we’re gonna have…

K: have sex

C: Get Elijah Wood to larp with you and fall in love

K: That would be my documentary, which would be amazing!

C: *laughs*

K: I would love to watch that! Someone make it!

Kara Güt in conversation with Clare Gatto. Images courtesy of Kara Güt.