Host Souls

100 Screenshots (3840 x 2160), color, 2021.

A fantasy character in front of an obelisk. In the foreground, a window report an huge number.

A quiet space in which to rest one’s weary limbs. A regenerating bonfire full of unexpected hopes, a vague mute chatting of busy inhabitants.

The nexus of Dark Souls II comes in the form of a small village camp where you can enjoy the absence of enemies and a beautiful, perennial, sunrise framed along the peak of a hill overlooking the sea. In the same place of peace, a place where the player’s organs and spirit can rest, there is a sort of cemetery mausoleum, enthroned on a raised stone platform, where new, invisible corpses accumulated by the players are updated day by day.

The structure works as a calculation tool: at each new death – online – of a player (therefore of an avatar), the count is increased by one unit. Each death is added up. This tool grafted in the game design allows us to meditate (as well as calculate) on our relationship with our virtual counterparts, on the concept of epistemological proxy attributed to a simulacrum, and on our evolutionary relationship with these “life forms” more and more organically linked to us.

For 100 days I returned to the world of Dark Souls II, documenting every day the number of total deaths reached by the players, the game, and, therefore, the system. In my documentation I also marked specific days and times, reporting the exact death counting added in the time of a day compared to another specific time in the previous day. All of this data is reported within an Excel file.

Each day’s count corresponds to a screenshot. In all, the visual documentation consists of 100 screenshots reporting the total number of deaths at the time of capture of each specific screenshot.