on internet art
interview by NICHOLAS O’BRIEN
NICHOLAS O’BRIEN — Hey Kool-Aid Man.
JON RAFMAN — Hi Nicholas.
NICHOLAS O’BRIEN — So you wanna go sit down and chat somewhere?
JON RAFMAN — Yeah.
NICHOLAS O’BRIEN — Do you know a good place?
JON RAFMAN — I know a few places.
NICHOLAS O’BRIEN — All right. Let’s discuss your history and your kind of art education I guess you could say, but also the early part of your career, which was invested in cinema and film history.
JON RAFMAN — Well, originally I wanted to be a filmmaker. I wanted to tell stories. I studied literature and philosophy in film in preparation for what I thought would be a career in cinema. When I’m surfing Google Street View or exploring Second Life, the narrative impulse is always there. An underlying theme or goal is a constant search for artistic tools and methods that best represent or reveal modern experience. So I look for ideas and inspiration from those who also struggle to represent their experience of modernity, whatever the time period or era. In fact, I believe the different generations or time periods that have been termed modern are more similar than different. I mean, be it Geoffrey Chaucer in the Middle Ages or the contemporary artist Cory Arcangel, the artist has searched for how to represent and critically examine the present.
NICHOLAS O’BRIEN — Oftentimes one can approach your work or look at it through the lens of appropriation or co-opting amateur technology or pop technology. Things like Google Maps, Second Life, CafePress, the 3D Warehouse, stuff like that. I’m wondering how that influences the process of your work: whether it influences it from the onset or from the middle, or is it an afterthought?
JON RAFMAN — Well, like I said, literature and cinema are big influences, and equally inspiring are the things that I consume and am experiencing every day, the emerging virtual world like Second Life, for example. It’s not so much the amateur technologies themselves that inspire me, but what amateurs are doing with these technologies, what they are using the technologies to create. That’s what really gets me excited. I just love looking at stuff that people have created without the intention of it being called art. I mean, stuff that is made by people...