In Jon Rafman’s newest film, A Man Digging, a virtual flaneur undertakes an evocative journey through the uncanny spaces of video game massacres. In a re-visioning of the game Max Payne 3, Rafman radically transforms the role of the player. He now encounters the digital landscapes not as a numb fighter, but as a human who is touched by death and gore, even when it is rendered banal in its ubiquity. Divorced from their original context, the slaughtered bodies take on a dull, inarticulate violence that is disquieting. Through a film that becomes a de-sensationalized spectacle, Rafman confronts both the danger of passively aestheticizing the wreckage of the past, and the romantic fixation on death as a placeholder for meaning.
This video is Rafman’s latest contribution to his ongoing series that interrogates the nature of memory. As the narrator drifts through nostalgic recollections of his fragmented past, Rafman takes us through the gleaming surfaces of memory to the far edge of the real.