DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Jon Rafman Day

 

‘I began to know the fighting game community of New York while I was doing interviews for my 2011 film Codes of Honor, which is about a lone gamer recounting his past experiences in professional gaming. That work generally deals with a loss of history and the struggle to preserve tradition in a culture where the new sweeps away the old at a faster and faster pace. I saw the pro gamer as a contemporary tragic hero who strives for classic virtues in a hyperaccelerated age. The very thing the gamer attempts to master is constantly slipping away and becoming obsolete, which acutely reflects our contemporary condition.

‘When I held the pro gaming tournament at Zach Feuer in honor of the original Chinatown Fair arcade, which was the last great East Coast video arcade, it was as if the whole project had been leading up to that night. This was also true for the release on 4chan of my 2013 film Still Life (Betamale), a work that brings to light the darker fetishes of Internet subcultures—including furry fandom, kigurumi, and 8-bit anime. The community and the artist came face to face, and the reaction to the work was rich and varied. For instance, a 4chan user wrote:

this shit would have been cool in 2005 but you’re on goddamn 4chan in 2013, one of the biggest sites for “SUCH A LOSER ;_;” people to ever browse the internet
someone didn’t found out your dirty secret life and reveal it to everyone else
we’ve been doing it since the early/mid 2000’s
it isn’t special
get over it

‘Here the commenter is mocking my fetishization of these subcultures in classic 4chan style, while also revealing that sense that the moment you “discover” said culture it has already moved on. It also indirectly hints at the sublime feeling I every now and again experience when I’m surfing the Web and I suddenly discover a new community or fully formed subculture that has its own complex vocabulary and history. It’s this overwhelming sensation that there are subcultures within subcultures, worlds upon worlds upon worlds ad infinitum.

‘My earlier work is more romantic: There’s a flaneur-like gaze that crystallizes in the Google Street Views of Nine Eyes and the virtual safaris seen in the Kool-Aid Man in Second Life projects, for instance. As the Internet became a ubiquitous part of daily existence, I shared in the excitement of these new communities and was excited to explore the newly forming virtual worlds. Sometimes I see myself as a member of the community, but in many cases I approach the subcultures as if I were a passing explorer or an amateur anthropologist.

‘My latest videos and installations have a darker tone, delving into the murkier corners of the Web. What concerns me is the general sense of entrapment and isolation felt by many as social and political life becomes increasingly abstracted and experience dematerialized. There is no viable or compelling avenue for effecting change or emancipating consciousness, so the energy that once motivated revolution or critique gets redirected into strange and sometimes disturbing expressions.

‘I had planned to premiere my latest video, Mainsqueeze, in St. Louis for “The end of the end of the end,” but it was deemed too difficult and disturbing for the context of the exhibition. Some of the content, particularly the section with the “crush fetish,” in which a woman is depicted stepping on a live shellfish, is indeed difficult to watch. But I think the fetishes can evoke repressed desires as well as reveal latent societal tensions. There’s an underlying barbarism that can be found in daily life that I’m trying to capture. That said, I think the film is as beautiful and ironic, or postironic, as it is horrifying.

‘Currently, I’m developing a sculpture and installation series that has grown out of my intense interest in “troll caves,” which are the spaces inhabited by gamers during excessive hours in virtual reality. These spaces are actualized in a gallery environment and represent a borderland between the real and virtual. The troll caves contain a certain refined depravity that I find especially poignant today. They are at once abject and sublime spaces, revealing the material residue of a life completely dedicated to an online existence, and they point to the impossibility of total escape from physical reality.’ — Jon Rafman, ARTFORUM

 

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Stills


























































 

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Further

Jon Rafman’s site
9-Eyes Project
Jon Rafman’s Vimeo Channel
studio
Jon Rafman @ Twitter
Jon Rafman @ Instagram
Video: Artist Talk: Jon Rafman
Video: Jon Rafman : Performative Lecture : 04.09.14.
Jon Rafman @ Seventeen Gallery
Surreal, disturbing, NSFW and utterly thrilling: the work of Jon Rafman
‘Codes of Honor’
Jon Rafman’s “Codes of Honor’ @ Rhizome
Jon Rafman’s Second Life art
I have ten thousand compound eyes and each is named suffering
Jon Rafman and the World’s Hungriest Fetish
Skyrim Sunsets: Artist JON RAFMAN on Exploring VR with the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2
Revealing Jon Rafman by Lindsay Howard
Jon Rafman interviewed @ Purple
Artist Jon Rafman Is the Only Real Reason to See ‘Robocop’
NINE EYES: AN INTERVIEW WITH JON RAFMAN

 

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The Nine Eyes of Google Street View
by Jon Rafman
from ARTFCITY

Two years ago, Google sent out an army of hybrid electric automobiles, each one bearing nine cameras on a single pole. Armed with a GPS and three laser range scanners, this fleet of cars began an endless quest to photograph every highway and byway in the free world.

Consistent with the company’s mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” this enormous project, titled Google Street View, was created for the sole purpose of adding a new feature to Google Maps.

Every ten to twenty meters, the nine cameras automatically capture whatever moves through their frame. Computer software stitches the photos together to create panoramic images. To prevent identification of individuals and vehicles, faces and license plates are blurred.

Today, Google Maps provides access to 360° horizontal and 290° vertical panoramic views (from a height of about eight feet) of any street on which a Street View car has traveled. For the most part, those captured in Street View not only tolerate photographic monitoring, but even desire it. Rather than a distrusted invasion of privacy, online surveillance in general has gradually been made ‘friendly’ and transformed into an accepted spectacle.

One year ago, I started collecting screen captures of Google Street Views from a range of Street View blogs and through my own hunting. This essay illustrates how my Street View collections reflect the excitement of exploring this new, virtual world. The world captured by Google appears to be more truthful and more transparent because of the weight accorded to external reality, the perception of a neutral, unbiased recording, and even the vastness of the project. At the same time, I acknowledge that this way of photographing creates a cultural text like any other, a structured and structuring space whose codes and meaning the artist and the curator of the images can assist in constructing or deciphering. …

The way Google Street View records physical space restored the appropriate balance between photographer and subject. It allowed photography to accomplish what culture critic and film theorist Siegfried Kracauer viewed as its mission: “to represent significant aspects of physical reality without trying to overwhelm that reality so that the raw material focused upon is both left intact and made transparent.”

This infinitely rich mine of material afforded my practice the extraordinary opportunity to explore, interpret, and curate a new world in a new way. To a certain extent, the aesthetic considerations that form the basis of my choices in different collections vary. For example, some selections are influenced by my knowledge of photographic history and allude to older photographic styles, whereas other selections, such as those representing Google’s depiction of modern experience, incorporate critical aesthetic theory. But throughout, I pay careful attention to the formal aspects of color and composition. (cont.)

 

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Interview
from KALEIDOSCOPE blog!

 

Aids3d: As an artist you’ve got a lot of different things going on. Do you think it’s important as an artist to have a seemingly cohesive body of work, or at least some kind of delineation between different sub-practices. Could you outline some structure that organizes your practice as a whole?

Jon Rafman: What ties my practice together is not so much a particular style, form, or material but an underlying perception of contemporary experience and a desire to convey this understanding. One theme that I am continually interested in is the way technology seems to bring us closer to each other while simultaneously estranging us from ourselves. Another one is the quest to marry opposites or at least have conversations between them, the past and the present, the romantic and the ironic, even though these conversations often end in total clashes. All my work tends to combines irony, humor and melancholy.

A3D: How do you think an idea of territorialism fits in to your work.? I mean this in a few ways, 1st literally, in Google Street Views and Second Life tours, you’re literally exploring pubic spaces and sorta claiming them for your practice.

JR: If I use a public space for a critical or creative purposes, I view it as “my territory.” Yet it is mine no more or no less than that of any other artist.

A3D: But I also wonder about whether or not you believe in any idea of artistic territory, or is this an increasingly outmoded way of categorizing artistic practice? (In the sense that Seth Price owns vacuum sealed ropes or Cory Arcangel owns Nintendo hacks)

JR: Personally I find it outmoded, but as an artist it is very important to be aware of what came before you, otherwise you might make references in your work without being conscious of it. I do think it is important to ‘own’ your work in that sense.

A3D: Being a bit open and dilettantish is obviously easier than ever, but do you think that it is a good move for a young artist just starting a career? I wonder this myself, as we’ve jumped around a whole lot in 5 years of work, and I’ve heard many times that its hard to see a visual continuity within aids-3d.

JR: I don’t quite see it that way. I see a definite continuity, both visual and conceptual, in Aids-3d. But I think we struggle with similar issues of not fitting easily into an artistic type or genre. The themes running through our work are consistent, yet we are just always looking for different modes of expressing them? I am constantly searching for an ideal, be it a girl, a mentor, the sublime, while simultaneously trying to reveal the sadness that accompanies the loss of these ideals or the failure to achieve them.

A3D: You’ve started getting some success in the art market in the past year or so, do you think that the “market forces” will lead you towards a more crystalized and apparent Jon Rafman style, or do you think that commercial support could allow you to be even more experimental?

JR: I don’t think I will ever be able to settle on any one way of making work even if I ever have huge market success. If a Jon Rafman style develops it won’t be the result of a conscious effort. Although financial success would help make it easier for me to afford to make things that I would not otherwise be able to. For example, l would love to create a real life Malevich Ducati or make a feature length film. Money would allow me to be more experimental in that way.

A3D: I think that maybe the most crucial element in your work, do you have different rules when you’re exploring Second Life versus Google Street View?

JR: The rules are constantly evolving and changing and I often only become aware of them in retrospect. This may not be what you have in mind, but if I were to give any rule I think the main one that guides me is the desire to find or produce something genuinely new without necessarily knowing what it is in advance. I really want to create something that can both act on the future and the past; an art that is new and yet finds continuity with art history. I think that a new art re-works and transforms, retrospectively, the history of art.

We went to see an excellent Post Modernism exhibition at the V&A in London together and I remember you reached a point when you started getting depressed because it was so clear that so much of the stuff going on right now amongst our peers was a just a repetition of what had already happened. Now I think that gloomy feeling is valid because, on one level, repetition is a form of regression, for as we move further and further away from the original source our consciousness of the historical condition lessens. But there is also an emancipatory character to repetition if the repetition is made explicit. Maybe as artists we are continually driven to re-attain lost moments in art history but in new ways.

A3D: I can see how one might take the poignant and sometimes tragic subject matter of your Google Street Views as being a bit exploitative (clearly the people depicted have given no consent). Do you feel that you have the same responsibilities towards your subjects as a traditional street photographer might have? Does the technological mediation give you a free pass to depict whatever you find?

JR: I believe I advocate the total autonomy of the artist to capture or create whatever he or she may please, even though I know that this is an aspiration rather than an achieved state. I think it is important to be conscious of the potential exploitative nature of one’s art but I also think that, if you start making decisions based on political or moral correctness, your art ceases to be autonomous.

Yet, I think all artists have to take responsibility for their creation. And that it is very possible for an artist not to actually see the truth in their work, it is possible for a photographer to be blind towards what he is photographing. A classic example of this in film is in the movie Blow Up. At first, the protagonist does not see the actual murder taking place in his photo. In order to see the reality in your work, you have to be worthy of it and truly to committed to the your creations. The moral and epistemological perspectives are intertwined. For me, that means that in order to see the truth in my Street View photos, I have to be open to the inherent violence in them. I think whenever you capture something in art or writing you are doing violence to a certain extent because you are wrenching it from the constant flow of inchoate reality.

A3D: Recently, we both attended the #OWS protest in London. Maybe we can detour and talk about that for a little bit… I’ve always been especially taken by this one Critical Art Ensemble quote from their text Electronic Civil Disobedience, “CAE has said it before, and we will say it again: as far as power is concerned, the streets are dead capital! Nothing of value to the power elite can be found on the streets, nor does this class need control of the streets to efficiently run and maintain state institutions.”

JR: I think if the streets had a coherent ideology with a revolutionary consciousness that assertion would be untrue, but the truth is that a politically effective Left has been dead for a long time now. I think this supposed renaissance of the Left can easily lead to a even further disintegration or splintering of what remains of the Left. But just to back up a little bit, I think it is important to talk about the roots of the #OWS movement and recent leftist history in order to grasp it clearly. For me, the #Occupy movement shares many similarities to the anti-globalization movements of the 1990s, most clearly expressed in the anti-WTO protests in Seattle at the turn of the millennium. For instance both movements were spearheaded by anarchist groups and have been supported by the labor movement. Both movements were “leaderless” and expressed a populist discontent. A major theme of the “post-New left”, “post-ideological” 1990s-era Left was, as in the current #Occupy movements, resistance/reaction rather than pressing for concrete liberal reforms let alone real revolution.The standard narrative is that the 90s anti-globalization movement faded out after the 9/11 attacks and became focused on attacking the Bush administration and Israel during the “War on Terror” era. But the #OWS movement is not objecting to neo-conservatism and US imperialism as in the 2000s, but to neo-liberalism and capitalism in general. While I do think that the shift away from a politics based on opposing US hegemony towards one that is based on critiquing capitalism as a whole is a good one, I do not think that any form of coherent emancipatory politic is guiding the movement. Over the past half century there has been a profound banalization and degeneration of revolutionary politics. All problems cannot simply be blamed on corruption or greed. The anti-intellectual strain in anarcho politics coming out of the #OWS movement is partly a result of the desire to reject the grand-narratives of the Old Left. There is now a conflation of lifestyle choices with political action and very little attempt to form structural critiques of capitalism. Micropolitics have totally supplanted macropolitics. I understand that there is an appealing optimism to the localist impuse, but I think behind the lightness of culture jamming and everyday politics of resistance lies something darker, a profound cynicism and sense that there is nothing ‘outside’ the current social order. There is a real despair at the failure of past revolutionary struggles which has resulted in a almost inescapable skepticism of any totalizing politics. The practice of everyday resistance (buying local/organic?) seems a lot easier and safer than methodological struggle of building a sustained alternative ideological world view. But that said, there is definitely a new possibility to articulate the current situation that I don’t think was possible while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were raging. Yet I have seen no clear articulation of the situation by any political leaders or movements. The #OWS movement is raising some issues that have been out of the public sphere for a little while. Like what would it mean to challenge the very structure of society? It is clear that we do not live in the best of possible worlds. Yet how could a new global political movement meet these concerns in practice? At this moment in time, I cannot imagine an revolutionary ideology good enough to meet the historical possibilities of our moment. Even conceiving the possibilities for radical transformation today is truly challenging for me.

 

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Videos

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Kool-Aid Man in Second Life, Tour Promo (2009)
‘If you’re in the middle of an existential crisis, this video by artist Jon Rafman of the Kool-Aid Man meandering through various user-created realms of Second Life might be just the thing to shake you out of it. Or conversely, if your life is boring as hell and you need a little existential crisis up in your bizness, this might get that process kick-started. Really, I’m pretty sure it can work either way.’ — D.Billy

 

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Woods of Arcady (2010)
Woods of Arcady is about a fictional virtual world modeled after World of Warcraft.’

 

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You, the World and I (2010)
‘When Orpheus’ beloved Eurydice dies, he cajoles his way into the underworld with his musical charms and his lyre. Wanting her but not her shade, he cannot forbear looking back to physically see her and so loses her forever. In this modern day Orphean tale, an anonymous narrator also desperately searches for a lost love. Rather than the charms of the lyre, contemporary technological tools, Google Street View and Google Earth, beckon as the pathway for our narrator to regain memories and recapture traces of his lost love. In the film, they are as captivating and enthralling as charming as any lyre in retrieving the other: at first they might seem an open retort to critics of new technology who bemoan the lack of the tangible presence of the other in our interactions on the Internet.’ — JR

 

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Remember Carthage (2012)
‘An essay film in the tradition of experimental documentarians like Chris Marker or Harun Farocki, Remember Carthage takes the viewer on an epic journey in search of an abandoned resort town deep in the Sahara desert. However, one travels not through archival or personal images but through footage sourced from PS3 video games and Second Life, depicting ancient civilizations that seem at once familiar and totally fantastical. Remember Carthage is a first-person journey through a historical fantasia that highlights the fictionalizing and exoticization of culture within gaming and virtual worlds.’ — New Museum

 

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In the Realms of Gold (2012)
‘In Jon Rafman’s series of enchanting and hypnotic videos inspired by poetic masterpieces, images of extreme technological modernity contrast with virtual representations of bucolic, idyllic and classical landscapes. In The Realms of Gold, alternative possibilities are explored as a first person shooter video meets a nature documentary. Rafman’s video evokes the world of the hero-shooter intent on defeating the other, yet it lingers on pastoral scenes of exquisite beauty. The narrative it contains is implied but is never revealed. Thus Rafman continues his exploration of the impact of our interactions in the cyber and virtual world on notions of our notions of beauty and alienation, nostalgia and loss, and decay and destruction.’ — Purple

 

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Imago (excerpt from a work in progress) (2013)

 

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A Man Digging (2013)
‘In Jon Rafman’s newest film, A Man Digging, a virtual flaneur undertakes an evocative journey through the uncanny spaces of video game massacres. In a re-visioning of the game Max Payne 3, Rafman radically transforms the role of the player. He now encounters the digital landscapes not as a numb fighter, but as a human who is touched by death and gore, even when it is rendered banal in its ubiquity. Divorced from their original context, the slaughtered bodies take on a dull, inarticulate violence that is disquieting. Through a film that becomes a de-sensationalized spectacle, Rafman confronts both the danger of passively aestheticizing the wreckage of the past, and the romantic fixation on death as a placeholder for meaning.’ — DIS Magazine

 

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Annals of Time Lost (2013)
‘Google’s description of its mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful is consistent with the archival notion of accumulating everything; the will to enclose all eras, all forms, in a virtual place of all times that is itself outside of time. The project of organizing an infinite accumulation of our virtual lives betrays the desire to overcome the foundational and universal experience of loss. In Annals of Time Lost Jon Rafman engages with this utopian quest for the complete archive coupled with the anxiety around its ultimate impossibility.’ — Future Gallery

 

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Still Life (Betamale) + Oneohtrix Point Never (2013)
‘“As you look at the screen, it is possible to believe you are gazing into eternity,” says an absent, artificial female voice in the beginning of Jon Rafman‘s NSFW Still Life (Betamale) (2013) video. “You see the things that were inside you. This is the womb, the original site of the imagination. You do not move your eyes from the screen, you have become invisible.” Still Life (Betamale) confronts some of humanity’s newer and more obsessive activities, all things that may be unique to the web (though we’re never sure). The video sets the stage with shots of disgustingly lived-at computer desks covered in bits of food and cigarette ashes, surrounded by energy drinks and dirty dishes. The main character, the fat man with panties covering his face, pointing two guns at his own head, is leading us on a nearly psychosis-inducing stream of various types of fetish and subculture porn — some of the web’s darkest and strangest corners. This is not the safe and corporate internet of Facebook or Google; Still Life (Betamale) is drawn from the visually overloaded world of 4chan, as obsessively browsed by a man who lives in his mother’s basement.’ — hyperallergic

 

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Mainsqueeze (2014)
‘Hundreds of people stuck in a giant swimming pool passively floating to the rhythm of artificial waves. The poor resolution of the found footage muddles them into a contextless and faceless crowd. Nobody tries to escape the crowd, or go against the current. They are trapped but happy enough. It’s like Dante’s Inferno but without the drama. Just the people floating in the mud. The final scene of Mainsqueeze captures “a contemporary atmosphere or mood” which sets the present as a time out of joint, encapsulated by the washing machine that tears itself apart over the course of the film. Rafman poses the present escape from the real towards the simulated as the result of a general feeling of turmoil that leads to flight rather than revolt. In the video, the first readable line of text is written on the forehead of a sleeping drunk man at the beginning of the film: “LOSER”. He smiles, and we are led to wonder who the loser really is. Yet Rafman is not making a particular ethical statement: “Mainsqueeze expresses a moral condition or atmosphere without making a moral judgment. I gravitate towards communities like 4chan because I see in them a compelling mix of attraction and repulsion. This ambivalence is reflected in the current cultural moment.”’ — DIS Magazine

 

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NEON PARALLEL (1996, 2015)
‘The atmospheric textures in his film Neon Parallel 1996 (2015) sit somewhere between the warm softcore haze of Just Jaeckin’s Emmanuelle (1974) and the dystopian visions of Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962), cut like a tourist-board montage for an LA circa Blade Runner (1982). Across the screen, a chatroom conversation plays out between two lost replicants, ‘ang3l’ and ‘spider_’: ‘You have to learn how to look. How to open yourself to the data …’ An ironic varnish of oily nostalgia drips from the work – from the sexy cyber-noir heroine to the gooey techno-pagan climax. Nostalgia for what is harder to pin down: for antiquated tech, perhaps; for lost futures past; for a vintage tomb we just can’t stop raiding.’ — Frieze

 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** David Saä, Hi, David. I agree. It’s a million euro idea, if you ask me. Cool, I look forward to hearing from you. xo. ** H, Hi, h! Thank you for the wishes. I think I will know if I’ll get the apartment I’ve applied for maybe by tomorrow, if I’m very lucky. In the meantime, I keep hunting. Your wish is a big help. ** David Ehrenstein, Ah, the golden days when plastic was the future! ** Dynomoose, Hi, Adrienne! What a total treat! I envy you getting to use the machines in the Henry Ford Museum. I used to (and may still) have the Grauman’s Chinese Theater one (red), a dolphin (aqua blue), and some kind of truck (yellow). Congrats for surviving the latest MG! Lots of love to you! ** James Nulick, Hi, James. Yes, it was lovely to bump into Mr. Gibson. I loved ‘Burning Chrome’ too. The Sprawl Trilogy was huge for me, especially ‘Count Zero’. I’m so very sorry to hear about your friend’s passing. I haven’t been to a funeral since my mom’s. They’re such very strange things. I always feel like I’m on some kind of very weird, terrible drug at them. I can’t do open coffin. I just simply will not do that. I wish you lots and lots of strength, my friend, all that you could need and more. Love, me. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi, Dora! Thank you, me too. My fingers are crossed, and I’m trying hard not to get my hopes too high. I should know one way or the other soon. And I’m looking at other places in case. I saw an okay place yesterday, but I don’t know if I’ll qualify for it yet. The film shooting is going to be a very intense experience. Because of the time limitations, we’ll probably have to shoot, or at least be on set preparing to shoot, from 6 am to midnight or much later every day for two weeks. Yikes. I’m excited, but I’m also wondering how I will survive that, ha ha. Your day may have been low-key, but it sounds quite nice. Yesterday: I looked at a possible apartment. It’s okay, the location’s good. I’m applying for it today. Talked a lot with Zac about film stuff and with Gisele about theater/TV/opera stuff. Now we’re told that we hopefully will hear about the TV series on March 20th, but I just don’t believe the TV channel’s promises anymore at this point. Worked, blah blah, kind of a stressful, busy day. Today is a big film production meeting and an art opening by a friend and hopefully gathering the final documents I need to finalize the apartment application. We’ll see. I hope your day today counts in some wonderful way. Did it? ** Steevee, Hi. Basically, I’m waiting for the guarantor to give me the documents I need, and I hope I’ll get them today. Then I will deliver them to the real estate agency as soon as I get them, and, at that point, I should pretty much know if the apartment I’ve applied for will be mine or not. And I’m applying for other places in the meantime, but I can’t really do anything until I get the guarantor’s documents. So, things are happening, and I’m kind of exhausted from all of it. Thank you for asking. I’m not massively surprised that ‘Nocturama’ might not get a theater release. It is quite an odd film, especially by US standards. I’ll do an audio peek at the Oddisee album, but, yeah,it doesn’t sound too me. Chris Dankland, Steevee suggests that you might be into Oddisee’s new album THE ICEBERG if you don’t know it. ** Sypha, Hi, James. I’m glad you liked the post. Yeah, Gibson’s a really sweet, cool guy. Super likeable. I do think the Sprawl Trilogy is probably his best, but the Bridge Trilogy (‘Virtual Light’, ‘Idoru’, ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’) is very excellent. I’ve read books by him here and there since then. The Delany journals sound very entertaining, cool. ** _Black_Acrylic, Ha ha, no, but I should do some kind of post about that kind of mold. Hm, I need an angle. I’ll think about it. It’s true that stress and mediocrity is equated with non-art-making work in my head. Still, I know you’ll find a way to ace it and nerd out on what you need to do in a productive way. ** Bill, Hi, Bill! Oh, gosh, my honor about the embed. I watched it about eight times. I really love it! You’re a fucking master, sir. Hands as bugs … ooh, I like that. It’s kind of LSD. Have an awesome day. It must be possible, and I am attempting to will said day into existence. Did it work? ** Okay. D.l. Oscar B aka artist/writer/filmmaker OB De Alessi recently turned me onto the work of Jon Rafman, whose stuff I’d only previously known through a cool video he made for Oneohtrix Point Never (see: above), and I thought it would be cool to forward her tip onto you. And I have. Please join me in luxuriating in this lovely discovery. See you tomorrow.

14 Comments

  1. Hey Dennis! Very nice day about a very interesting artist! I love the first image you put! Speaking of weird Google Street experiences, once I was fiddling around with it and I randomly placed the marker somewhere in Russia. It took me inside what seemed to be a sex shop or a brothel. Bizarre.
    Hope you enjoy the sunny day!

  2. So I just watched the entirety of the Second Life Tour with the Kool-Aid Man and I saw it as a comment on the absurdity of branding and capitalism in an age of entropy and decay …. or something? It’s 5AM and I don’t know quite what to make of seeing the Kool-Aid Man being fucked by a dragon but I’m better for it, I think. What a ride. Speaking of sex that is beyond the pale, I’m writing a critical theory paper on gloryholes and public sex for one of my midterms. Have you read Delany’s Times Square Red Times Square Blue, Dennis? You probably have. Definitely a favorite book of mine.

    How are you, my dear friend?

  3. I love that you’re into Jon Rafman! I’v read your blog for a couple of years but never really posted anything. This finally made me do it for some reason. I’m so into Jon Rafman atm. Have you seen his vore sculptures at the Berlin biennale? Or his new work with the fleshy couches in Vienna (?) I think? If not, look them up!

    Best,
    K

  4. Hi Dennis,

    New to Rafman. Some abject and mesmerizing images. Very nice. Would look into it further probably (and hopefully) this weekend. Thanks for the post.

    There’s a Robert Breer show starting today, so I’m going there perhaps tomorrow. I really like playful, lyrical plasticity of his films, but haven’t seen his sculptures. And this weekend, watching Sophie’s Misfortunes and Nocturama. Treat weekend for me. A little scared to be out that much…

    I’m terrible at predicting something. But I think you will be able to move in that place. (Hope you will find another you love just in case. )

  5. David Saä Estornell

    March 2, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Yesterday a reporter friend of mine, made me an interview. Today it´s has been publish in newspaper in Andalucia and Castilla y León (both in Spain). I was talking about you, and… ^^I reaffirmed a myth about you. I told him that you (your work) had used as inspiration to Thomas Harris to create the character of “Annibal Lecter” !!!! Boom! Reboom! I know that you’re going to enjoy it! I love you man. http://jackerouack.blogspot.fr/2017/03/entrevista-al-realizador-david-estornell.html

  6. To me Rafman seems to be somewhere between Benjamin’s “Arcades Project” and Haneke’s “Cache”
    An interesting article on Joan Didion

  7. Dóra Grőber

    March 2, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Hi!

    Shit, your shooting schedule sounds brutal! I guess “intense experience” describes it the best, yeah. I’m already curious about everything you’ll share with me/us afterwards!
    I hope you will finally hear about the TV series this month! I understand the skepticism though…
    I met my writer friend today and after that I started some preparations for the next self-help group. We came up with the idea that we’ll give every session a basic topic on which we’ll build the whole thing loosely so now I’m collecting ideas about possible topics.
    Sounds like you had a busy day today! How was the meeting and the art opening? Did you hear back about the apartment? And also: could you apply for the other one? I still keep my fingers crossed!!
    I hope you had a lovely day!

  8. Jon Rafman is a genius and a huge inspiration to me. ‘Neon Parallel’ is one of my favorite short films of all time, maybe my favorite, and I’m guessing that I’ve watched it around fifty times. I love artists that exploit that bizarre culture of the internet, which he does a lot. In that movie, the writing is so spectral and perfectly aligned with the footage. Great post <3

  9. Rafman’s artwork is fascinating, but I cringe every time I read something along the lines of “the Internet/social media promised to bring us together, but ended up isolating and fragmenting us.” Not that there’s no truth in it, but it might be the #1 cliche of our time. I know that I’ve formed a few real-life friendships with people I first “met” on Facebook who live in New York. I do share his fascination with the more bizarre corners of the Internet.

    I’ve pitched an essay on GET OUT, exploring its mix of progressive and well-thought-out anti-racist politics, its sexist depiction of women and the extent to which the ugly responses of the audience with whom I saw it colored my perception of that depiction, to several outlets. For all my qualms about it, I prefer it to any Hollywood release I saw it last year.

    • Utopian promises about the Internet and social media circa the Arab Spring were the #1 cliche of *their* time. I know things have turned much uglier – a female friend received rape and death threats for criticizing Trump on Twitter, and she now only does so under a new male persona she’s created there under a separate account. I still find my Twitter feed a very useful tool for filtering the most pertinent bits of news from the mainstream media, which I can then click on. I’ve gotten threats too for criticizing Trump, but nothing as nasty as what my friend received, and they were so stupid and poorly written that I laughed them off.

  10. Dennis, Good suggestion from Oscar. This guy’s work looks very interesting. Oh, and I love molds. Have never done anything with them, but I very much appreciate them.

    Though I did watch a vid once where they made penis and vagina molds. That was cool.

    Okay, Jessie Montgomery. I’ve seen a vid or two of his. Well, preview vids. He’s right up my alley, too.

    So we had a 5-minute severe storm yesterday…and lost two shingles. My mom and Kayla put them back on. LPS said he was too scared to get on the roof, afraid he might fall off. It’s a single-story house.

  11. Hey Dennis – Rafman’s work is new to me. Looks interesting and plan to spend more time with this post tomorrow. I loved yesterday’s Mold-A-Rama post. I remember those machines as a kid and being fascinated with them and upset my parents would never let me buy anything from them.

    You familiar with the work of British playwright Edward Bond? His name came up as an influence on and fellow traveller to Heiner Muller. Apparently his work has been banned numerous times in Britain. I haven’t read anything by him – have you?

    Crazy about the TV network postponing the date yet again. Have they given any reason for all the delays? Must be super frustrating.

    Hope one of the apartments comes through soon.

  12. Looking forward to spending some time with this, the work is looking promising at first glance.
    I also loved mold-o-rama.
    Hope your apartment woes are at or near an end.
    Mark and I are in the very final stages of completing our audio project, very excited about that.

  13. Really intriguing range of work today… will have to spend more time with Rafman this weekend, I’m getting quite lost in the individual pieces, and not getting the bigger picture.

    Thanks for the awesome wishes, Dennis. I did have a pretty reasonable day, all things considered. Getting a little anxious about all I have to do tomorrow, with the gig just being one item. Weekends are for collapsing, right?

    Of course that’s nothing compared with your upcoming filming schedule! Whew.

    Bill

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