Jon Rafman

Bushwick based artist, Jon Rafman, spends a lot of time online.  He’s committed 100′s of hours to combing through the thousands of miles google maps  has available as street  view from around the world and taken screen shots of the gems he’s unearthed. A house burning down, a prostitute passed out on the sidewalk, or a man standing on the corner staring astoundedly up into the 8 foot eye of the google vans 360° camera.  Crazy more photos after the jump.

Photos Courtesy of Jon Rafman

Rafman’s found photos reflect the many masks of America and the world at large in completely unassuming, voyeuristic, and honest terms.  Many photos represents odd cross sections of everyday life;

a segway tour group rolling down the street in file, or complete grotesques of human nature, prostitutes alert on the corner shading themselves with umbrellas.

But what makes these images so powerful is the fact that each is culled from a sterile internet search engine designed for mapping and directions.  The people caught in the pictures are by-products, a glimmer of the life occuring around an address or an intersection.  Yet some of these images can be shocking, or at times hilarious.

Like a modern day explorer, Rafman delves into the hallways of google maps looking for those rare moments documented unconsciously, like navigating someone elses memories.  Perhaps one day these images could be used to research architechture, human nature, fashion, or to marvel at the oddity of an era, like staring at your parents childhood photo albums.

Rafman shows us a side of ourselves we didn’t know existed, often beautiful, more troubling than not.  What I find most intriguing are the glimpses of chaos, like little ” woops’ ” scattered amongst the cyber world.

His stolen frames are compelling, drawing you into a surreal world where people seem trapped inside their own time lapse shot.  Completely isolated from the remainder of the world they each make a statement of loneliness, uncertainty or desperation.  Yet still the human spirit rises above portraying beauty in these detached portraits.  Almost whispering, “we are here.”  Rafman’s street view portraits remind all of us that we are here amongst the obscurity of the masses, collected in 360° x 290° vantage points every 10 meters.

See the entire collection here

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