Jon Rafman


 Aug 2014

Jon Rafman (b. 1981) is an artist, filmmaker, and essayist. Rafman’s work focuses on technology and digital media, and explores the impact of technology on contemporary consciousness. In his multidisciplinary practice, Rafman often explores the relationship between the “real” and the “virtual” in contemporary life, urging viewers to reconsider the boundaries between the two.

Jon Rafman celebrates and critiques contemporary culture, while at the same time revealing the origins of modern loneliness and alienation. He offers a way to look at the melancholy in our modern social interactions, communities and virtual realities from an accessible place of humour and irony.Though Rafman rarely takes a moral stance toward the messaging behind his art, it consistently asks us to evaluate what it means to be human in the context of these new and ambiguous digital realms. His films and art are hauntingly evocative and utilize extremely personal moments to reveal how pop-culture ephemera and advertising media shape our desires and threaten to define our being, distancing  us from ourselves.

Online films and ongoing projects

He’s explored the identities and history of some of our most common virtual worlds— Google Earth, Google Street View and Second Life

  • 9-Eyes – he finds a spontaneity and authenticity he finds is lost from current street photography. Fact that they are captured by a roving robot by chance makes it more poetic ‘modernist notion of god. God does not care about reality, just observes. Watching but does not take a moral stance. The human gaze then interpretes, finds meaning, beauty and stories. That tension gives power. He just takes screen shots. The Google link to report a concern is meaningless. Faces are blurred. Some stitched together so see people in two places.

An ongoing project of Rafman’s involves a tour around the virtual universe of Second Life, which is hosted by his avatar Kool-Aid Man. The work deals with how users employ creative exploits in order to bring to life an idealized self and entertain sexual fetishes in the virtual world.

Rafman currently lives in Montreal, Canada. His artwork has gained international attention and will be exhibited this year at Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (Montreal). He has been in various group exhibitions including Les Rencontres d’Arles, new jpegs, at the Johan Berggren Gallery in Malmo, Sweden, Free, at the New Museum in New York, and Speculations on Anonymous Materialsat The Fridericianum‘in Kassel. He has contributed to exhibitions at New Museum (2010), The Saatchi Gallery (2012), Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (2010), Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (2012), Palais de Tokyo (2012), and The Fridericianum (2013).
He has also been in several solo exhibitions, including, Annals of Time Lost, at Future Gallery, Berlin (April 2013), A Man Digging, at Seventeen Gallery, London (May 2013), and You Are Standing in an Open Field ( Zach Feuer Gallery, New York, Sep 2013).

In September 2013, Rafman collaborated with Brooklyn-based experimental musician Oneohtrix Point Never on a film to accompany the release of R Plus Seven (Warp).

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