Jon Rafman – Still Life (Betamale)

Still Life (Betamale), 2013

If I’m honest about Jon Rafmans work – I hate watching his videos and they make me feel incredibly uncomfortable, but I think this is because of how well they highlight certain areas of the internet and the darker side of our relationship with the internet. Particularly, in this video there is a reflection on the overwhelming, disorientating and nauseating world that can envelop an internet user. The parallel between the apathy and laziness of the user, and the obscene, excessive and fast paced online experience is highlighted. There is an onslaught and exorbitant amalgamation of pornography, gaming, animation, childlike characters, animals and costumed figures, edited along with images of the result of a grotesque laziness that can be seen to be resultant of the fixation on this over the top world of arousing images. Rafman highlights this loss of interest in reality as the internet grabs our attention and draws us into a world of obscene voyeurism and fetish, in which the physical limitations of reality dissolve.

This work is quite illustrative of what I have read about the nature of a society enhanced by digital technology, in Jean Baudrillard’s ‘Ecstasy of Communication’:

“Inversely, the entire universe comes to unfold arbitrarily on your domestic screen (all the useless information that comes to you from the entire world, like a microscopic pornography of the universe, useless, excessive, just like the sexual close-up in a porno film): all this explodes the scene formerly preserved by the minimal separation of public and private, the scene that was played out in a restricted space, according to a secret ritual known only by the actors.”

Unlike this organic, visceral, carnal promiscuity, the promiscuity that reigns over the communication networks is one of superficial saturation, of an incessant solicitation, of an extermination of interstitial and protective spaces.

“There is in effect a state of fascination and vertigo linked to this obscene delirium of communication. A singular form of pleasure perhaps, but aleatory and dizzying.”

– Jean Baudrillard, Ecstasy of Communication, 1988


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