Hieronymus Bosch and Dante meet the digital age in the dystopian work of Canadian artist Jon Rafman, who debuts his controversial feature-length CGI film, Minor Daemon: Volume 1 at 180 Studios on 2 February 2023.
Rafman draws on 30 years of internet subcultures to outfit his nightmarish ‘fever dream’, examining the relationship between technology and social consciousness.
Minor Daemon: Volume 1 follows the journey of two young gamers, Billy and Minor Daemon – one a spoiled rich kid, the other abandoned at birth and raised in a child labour camp. When a series of hellish events land both in a superman prison complex, they join its competitive VR team in a gaming tournament where victory will guarantee their freedom, working their way through a series of dystopian landscapes to the grand final.
Betrayal and a bungled prison break ensue, with Billy escaping to a remote ‘pleasure planet’ while Minor Daemon spends the next decade brewing his plans for vengeance and one final grizzly showdown.
The premier of Minor Daemon: Volume 1 coincides with a solo exhibition of Rafman’s work at Spüth Magers in London from 3 February to 25 March 2023. And far from being a morality quest, the computer-generated film takes an unflinching look at the dark side of human nature in the digital age, taken to farcical extremes.
It’s no secret the gaming sphere has a long and controversial history, with series like Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and Postal achieving cult status for their gameplay and violent and misogynistic immersive worlds. Rafman leans into this subculture for Minor Daemon, using consumer animation technology to project the anxieties of 21st-century techno-society into 3D motion – and raising aesthetic and social questions along the way.
Tickets are available now from the 180 The Strand website but beware, Minor Daemon is not suitable for under 16s, and it carries a trigger warning.
Jon Rafman, ‘Minor Daemon, Volume. 1’ runs at 180 Studios (2 Feb-25 March 2023) concurrently with his solo exhibition at Sprüth Magers, London (3 February – 25 March 2023)