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Trash Landscapes and Kool-Aid Men Come to Canada

Virtual realities and docu-fictions abound in Jon Rafman's first-ever museum exhibition in Canada.

by Benoit Palop
23 June 2015, 3:50pm

You Are Standing in an Open Field (Gale), 2015

Perhaps best known for his virtual-based projects like Google Street View-generated voyeurism and video game art, the artist Jon Rafman has taken over the main museum MAC Montreal for his first museum exhibition in Canada, The attraction of virtual communities. From his uncanny Kool-Aid Man in Second Life videos, to arcade game tribute docu-fiction Codes of Honor, to his series of photographic paintings You Are Standing in an Open Field, the Montreal-based new media artist presents an impressive large-scope series of works that question our ambiguous relationships to new technology—more precisely, to the virtual world —and puts his emphasis on a general disinterest and boredom with the real world.

Kool-Aid Man in Second Life, 2008-2011

In You Are Standing in an Open Field, large-scale collages combine photography with painting. The works merge foregrounds filled with keyboards, computer hardwares, and messy desks with a backdrop of landscape paintings picked from different art historical periods, creating timeless techno still lives that nod to an art historical context.

As the web-digger explores archives and documents the deepest underground internet nooks, Rafman gives life to pieces created from his most beautiful and twisted discoveries. “The craft is found in the searching, selecting, or curating, and editing together of the materials pulled from far-flung corners of the Web,” Rafman explains. “It is not about fetish tourism or shocking people about what exists in the dark corners of the net. Rather, I am giving the sourced material a poetic treatment.”

The diversity in the mediums he employs enables the artist to generate a timeless, rich, and varied universe at the meeting point between the Internet, video games, modernism, and art history at-large. Bringing to light the alienating and nefarious effects of the grand consumerism—bordering on pathological—of the Internet, his powerful aesthetic depicts the collateral behavioral effects linked to mass consumption.       

You Are Standing in an Open Field (Squall), 2015

You Are Standing in an Open Field (Waterfall), 2015

Jon Rafman: The attraction of virtual communities is on exhibit at MAC through September 13, 2015. For more of the artist's work click here.

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