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Jon Rafman

You Are Standing in an Open Field (Ideal Landscape)

2021, photography/object (inkjet print mounted on Dibond, resin, polystyrene)

You Are Standing In An Open Field (Ideal Landscape) is a new scene in a series of messy desktops showing portraits of absent users. In the background of the rubble on the table, instead of a computer screen as a desktop background, float images of romantic or campy paintings showing heroic panoramic views of nature. The hodgepodge of junk, books, documents, personal items and brief notes is a stereotypical portrait of its absent owner: perhaps the unseen subject is a woman who has recently given birth, a blue-collar beer drinker, a writer or journalist engrossed in work on an article, a teenage boy smoking and feasting on fast food and sugary soda, a nocturnal kid in need of vitamin D, producing electronic music on a rainbow-coloured keyboard, or a girl hoarding fashion magazines, make-up, scented candles and bath bombs... As in the other portraits in this series, the protagonist of the Ideal Landscape has lost control of his daily life as he drifts into the sublime state of online existence, convinced that he is transcending physical limitations while finding himself trapped in a pile of rubbish.

Neon Parallel 1996

2015, video

A flickering screen, an unknown yet familiar ’80s game show like tune, and the view of a nighttime highrise landscape set the mood in Neon Parallel 1996. Part live-action footage, video game sequences, simulated chat, poetic voiceover and virtual landscape, Neon Parallel 1996 is an attempt at creating a “lost vaporwave classic.”

It’s like a vague memory of a time gone by, one that’s slipping through our fingers as it’s unfolding, while human desire continues to lead us through a world that seems only partially graspable. As a fragment of a chat exchange reveals, we are left trying to simulate in order to navigate our surroundings. 

spider_: Why are you here?

ang3l: I came to retrace my steps.

Jon Rafman (*1981, Canada) is a visual artist focusing on technology and digital media who works in the fields of video, photography, and installation. Considering himself an artist-archivist, he appropriates images from the internet to critique real and virtual worlds, seeking to document how our perception of images changes as technology advances. Internet subcultures, modernist painting, and the tactility of flat screens play a large role in his oeuvre, often resulting in violent yet sublime photographs and videos. His most famous body of work is The Nine Eyes of Google Street View (2008-ongoing), in which he searched for and collected spontaneous moments captured by a Google Street View camera. He has presented his work in many internationally recognized institutions such as the Fridericianum, Kassel (2013), the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal (2015) and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2015). In 2019, he participated in the Venice Biennale with his films Dream Journal 2016–2019 (2019) and Disasters Under The Sun (2019).