Jon Rafman: the Canadian artist and filmmaker, renowned for his works exploring the impact of technology on contemporary consciousness and the ways in which digital media distances us from ourselves.
International attention has been surrounding his photographic series 9eyes – a range of images captured through Google Earth and Google Street View detailing the distressing to the picturesque, to the surreal. The on-going project represents the conflict between an inanimate object such as a camera and a man’s search for connectedness and significance. Throughout the majority of Rafman’s work, a disturbing quality is ever apparent, perhaps regarding 9eyes this is due to the fact these images are real representations of our contemporary experience, caught within a second by our most common virtual worlds, and ignored, regardless of the alarming images produced.
To our delight, Rafman will be showcasing his first major solo UK exhibition. It is set to immerse the visitors within a strange sculptural setting transporting us into the bizarre corners of the digital landscape while succumbing to the examining of ideas of desire, its simulations and enactment. The ball-pond installation, drowning in artificial blue light is shadowed by the video similar to Rafman’s Still Life (2013) short film merging footage of internet fetishes with grotesque imagery of food, vomit and cigarette butts drowning mundane objects while a calm voice narrates the clips, embodying no emotion although the subject of narration sets out purely to disgust – adding an unnerving quality.
Rafman’s latest creation, commissioned for the exhibition is titled Sticky Drama (2015). Working in collaboration with Daniel Lopatin, an American experimental musician, composer and producer, Rafman has created his first fully live-action short featuring a cast of 35 children. The film captures the audience and immerses them in a fantastical world in which the characters are on a quest, battling for dominance while in a race against time to archive past histories. Sticky Drama reflects the vivid, often violent world of children’s imaginations and games, as well as well as extending Rafman’s ongoing investigation into the nature of memory and the horror of data loss.
Wandering through the exhibition, accompanied by the strange electronic music, Rafman’s inclusion of the NSFW theme within his work is still undoubtedly apparent through the continuing of the inclusion of works containing the odd internet fetish. Older works embodying the theme are also on display, e.g. Mainsqueeze (2014) the footage which sets to describe the complexity of contemporary existence through found footage and confessional voiceovers. The final installation of the exhibition showcases Rafman’s large-scale hedge maze, populated with and a new 8ft figure. The installation emphasises the distinctions between the real and the digital as visitors are invited to enter a virtual space using Oculus Rift technology. Transporting us from the maze, imaginary scenarios interchange with tangible experiences and dissolve our perceptions of place and time.
Rafman’s work embodies the new age of art, it is unnerving yet unmeasurably thrilling. The exhibition is running from October 8th – December 20th at the Zabludowicz Collection Gallery in North London. For more details, see here.