You, the World and I / Jon Rafman / 2010
As an undifferentiated series of cultural, historical and contemporary symbols float together or follow one another in rapid succession, in a world where Dutch anthropologists discover pre-Socratic fragments on Turkish islands, perhaps we come to wonder as to the significance of anything and the place of tradition and history itself. Unlike Orpheus, our narrator is not seeking for his lost love but for photos of his love, he yearns for records of the relationship not the woman herself or the relationship itself. In the ultimate irony when he returns to the original photograph, it has been removed. By getting as close to possible to the world through technology, has our narrator not unwittingly distanced himself from this world? But maybe even more than a doomed quest, does not this whirlwind tour of an individual’s personal history and the world’s cultural history, this modern tale of loss, retrieval and loss again, expose that the change in our consciousness has preceded the change in our technology?
“Wherever I go, there I am” is the old adage, be it Yogi Berra or the Buddha. The detached gaze of a satellite image or an automatic Street View camera confronts a human consciousness whose ability to seek connectedness and meaning has already been compromised. Contemporary technological tools simultaneously open and close vistas on our inner and outer worlds. ➡︎
◼︎ You, the World and I / Jon Rafman