Juried Competition Honorable Mention Justin Schmitz is an artist living and working in Chicago, Illinois. He received an MFA from Yale University in 2013 and a BFA from Columbia College Chicago in 2004. “Airsoft is a live-action version of first-person shooter video games. I am interested in the enactment of make-believe roles that look and feel like actual military special operations. The boys precisely recreate the look of a contemporary soldier and carry seemly realistic weaponry–confusing the line between reality and imagination. At times, their fantasy game takes on realistic proportions and these young men appear as soldiers. In other instances, their age, ill-fitting clothing and physique reveal them as children. The performance of a video game in physical space further conflates the distance between fantasy and reality. The missions, scenarios, and personas are make-believe, but the targeting and tactics involve the development of skills that can be used outside of the game. Young people playing with guns in war games is not a new phenomenon, however contemporaneously, these photographs allude to the menacing potential of young men. I contemplate the discipline that is being learned, the empathy that is being shown, and how these boys will interpret the world they will grow into.” 📷: ‘Guise,’ 2017. @justinschmitz #baxterstccny #photography

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