Jon Rafman’s Poor Magic (2017) is a vision of a post-human dystopia featuring animated 3-D bodies continuously tortured in abstract digital space. The video presents the viewer with a haunting programme of repeating motifs: a blue featureless avatar, a view from a colonoscope, and ranks of identical figures crashing and toppling over each other, made with the help of crowd-simulation software. While a poetic lament, Poor Magic addresses the fragmented consciousness of a post-physical existence. The film presents a terrifying image of a future where all humanity is uploaded to a virtual purgatory and endlessly abused. Or perhaps it is also a brutal representation of the present moment and the effect that technology has on our flesh and psyche.
Disaster under the Sun
As with Rafman’s earlier work, Poor Magic (2017), Disasters Under the Sun (2019), continues his journey into the heart of contemporary alienation and the paradoxes of modernity illustrating once more that the very digital and technological instruments that estrange us from ourselves can inform us of the source of our alienation. The film portrays a post-human dystopia featuring faceless 3-D avatars continuously tortured in abstract digital space. While a poetic lament, Rafman addresses the fragmented consciousness of a post-physical existence. The film shows a terrifying image of a future where all humanity is uploaded to a virtual purgatory and endlessly abused. Or is it also a brutal representation of the present moment and the effect that a world dominated by algorithms has on our flesh and psyche? As Rafman explains: “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 expression.”
Screening on Thursday, 13 February at 1:05-1:45pm at Paramount Theatre