Xenon-Eye is a hybrid camera constructed by Class Wargames co-founder, Alex Veness, combining a hacked digital scanner (to become a photographic plate) and a Victorian camera.

Xenon is a gas, rare in nature, but easily synthesised, whose name derives from ancient Greek, meaning ‘strange’ or ‘peculiar’. Xenon gas creates brilliant, white light in all digital scanners’ built-in lamps. In everyday use, these lamps light streams of documents placed on scanners’ un-illuminated glass beds.

During its hack from document-reader to camera-plate, Veness stripped a xenon lamp from an everyday scanner and re-named it Xenon-Eye. Fitted to a camera-back, Xenon-Eye can see lens-based images only because its bright xenon lamp is absent, otherwise it would blind its own scanner-head, instead of recording images projected by its camera’s antique lens. Nevertheless, the scanner’s lost xenon lamp lives on under the camera’s new name.

Employing customised software to override the scanner’s alarm at its severe hacking, and to make it a stable, functioning camera-plate, Veness has used Xenon-Eye to document Class Wargames’ public events since 2007; playing Guy Debord’s The Game of War at national and international venues.

Xenon-Eye’s lack of empathy, its predilection for representing humans as unnatural grotesques, can be understood as a parodic visual aesthetic for neo-liberalism. As awareness grows of unchecked markets’ indifference to human welfare, these images come to define the individual’s true identity within the presiding system’s logic: distorted, extruded and forced into unbearable forms. Far from showing people ‘as they really are’, Xenon-Eye shows them ‘as they really exist’: unwilling actors within the current socio-economic logic.

When the disillussioned majority finally throw off the shackles of neo-liberalism, there will be no use for Xenon-Eye, and it will be ritually destroyed. Until that time, it will continue to record the colourless, painful distortions suffered by citizen-players, unwillingly forced to endure the intolerable indeterminacy of free-markets and the distressing brutality of economic liberalism for the benefit of a tiny, super-wealthy network; an increasingly despised bankocracy.

¡Hasta la victoria, siempre!