Jon Rafman + Christian Jankowski @ Future Gallery reviewed

, 6 June 2015

Known for taking his audience to the darker corners of the internet, Jon Rafman unites with Christian Jankowski‘s interactive performances for Field Vision, running at Berlin’s Future Gallery from May 1 to June 13. The result is a series of travel experiences, where the focus is on the less dominant senses in an attempt to construct the surroundings of full-time web browsers based on photos from feed aggregator sites.

Shot entirely in black and white The Eye of Dubai’ (2012) is the documentation of Jankowski’s first trip to the United Arab Emirates. Denying himself the privilege of sight, Jankowski and his film crew experience the entire journey blindfolded. Along with entertaining shots of the crew’s misfortune, the travelogue is stunningly visual. The architectural extremes of the region are shown, along with long nature shots that include one of Jankowski handling a falcon in the desert. A crew from BBC World News followed the process of producing the project, with one episode from the collaboration accompanying the film screened in the gallery’s hallway.

Jon Rafman, Field Vision (2015). Photo by Matthias Kolb. Courtesy Future Gallery, Berlin.

A pile of blindfolds lies on the floor of the main space. Above them hang large-scale photos sharing the title ‘The Eye of Dubai’ with Jankowski’s video and capturing amusing moments alongside the stunning surroundings. Rafman’s ‘YASIAOF (Chinese Medicine)’ (2015) and ‘YASIAOF (Woodsman)’ (2015) archival pigment prints are in the gallery’s main and left room. Printed on alu dibond and painted with dripping resin both images present a keyboard in the foreground covered in a distracting amount of trash. It’s a remake of similar images found on the web, accompanied by an oil paintings of a sunset over an Arcadian landscape.

A small boxlike enclosure called ‘Cubby’ (2015) after the children’s playset is one of two of Rafman’s DIY inspirited installations. Consisting of a mattress and a wooden box covered in pastel green-coloured PU chip foam, it acts as a home cinema allowing the viewer to lie back while watching a video custom-made for these surroundings. The film takes up almost the entire space of the inner room.

Jon Rafman, 'Cabinet' (2015).  Photo by Matthias Kolb. Courtesy Future Gallery, Berlin.
Jon Rafman, ‘Cabinet’ (2015). Photo by Matthias Kolb. Courtesy Future Gallery, Berlin.

The accompanying ‘Cabinet’ (2015) installation is another box-like structure made of the similarly crude materials as of ‘Cubby’, accessible through a door in the back. One person at a time can sit in a wooden seat with high sides and watch a video projected on one side.

‘Erysichthon’ (2015) screens in the small space an consists of photos from various feed aggregator sites, along with shots that seem taken from some kind of data storage. Often a hand holding a smartphone appears and is used as the video’s second screen, demonstrating the way many people browse the web in the belief that they are multi-tasking. That idea fits well with the video’s title, named after a cursed character in Greek mythology, who no matter how much he ate was never satisfied, eventually eating himself in hunger. **

See more exhibition photos on the Future Gallery website.

Jon Rafman + Christian Jankowski’s ‘Field Vision’ is on at Berlin’s Future Gallery, running May 1 to June 13, 2015.

Header image: Jon Rafman, ‘Erysichthon’ (2015). Video still. Photo by Matthias Kolb. Courtesy Future Gallery, Berlin.