Video shelf

Jon Rafman, Mainsqueeze (2014)

By Domenico Quaranta

Hundreds of people stuck in a giant swimming pool passively floating to the rhythm of artificial waves. The poor resolution of the found footage muddles them into a contextless and faceless crowd. Nobody tries to escape the crowd, or go against the current. They are trapped but happy enough. It’s like Dante’s Inferno but without the drama. Just the people floating in the mud.

The final scene of Mainsqueeze captures “a contemporary atmosphere or mood” which sets the present as a time out of joint, encapsulated by the washing machine that tears itself apart over the course of the film. Rafman poses the present escape from the real towards the simulated as the result of a general feeling of turmoil that leads to flight rather than revolt. In the video, the first readable line of text is written on the forehead of a sleeping drunk man at the beginning of the film: “LOSER”. He smiles, and we are led to wonder who the loser really is.

Yet Rafman is not making a particular ethical statement: “Mainsqueeze expresses a moral condition or atmosphere without making a moral judgment. I gravitate towards communities like 4chan because I see in them a compelling mix of attraction and repulsion. This ambivalence is reflected in the current cultural moment.”

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