JON RAFMAN at Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran • Projects/Libralato (944 Queen West), to June 28. 416-877-2853. Rating: NNNN
In the pop-up gallery currently occupying Clint Roenisch's former address, Jon Rafman has set up a month-long investigation of the grungy corners of the deep web and 4chan.
A replica of a greyish home care bed festooned with fake plants sits in the gallery window, an exact copy of the bed in a found online photo. It asks you to identify uncomfortably with its anonymous occupant.
Rafman scours the internet for subcultures and images that seem to have been unearthed from behind someone's abandoned car seat. None of it is pretty.
TV screens smeared with volcanic ash occupy the other walls of the front room. In one video, a snake in a dish is eating its own tail, opposite Chinese vacationers packed like dumplings into a giant pool who stand vacantly in the artificial waves.
In a backroom video, look for a man in a Ninja Turtle suit straining against bondage ropes on the floor, a body-builder crushing a watermelon with his bulging thighs and some creepy computer-animated hentai porn. In the hardest-to-watch segment, a woman caresses and then steps on a live crayfish. Throughout, there are brief clips of a self-destructing clothes dryer.
The most shocking image, however, is from the Western art canon. Caravaggio's horrific painting of Judith beheading Holofernes proves that great art can be as powerfully disturbing, if not more so, as furtive internet weirdness.
Rafman suggests an occult grammar underlying the deep strangeness of humanity watching itself through its own online camera lens. He seems uncertain, however, whether we are collectively building a new common cultural language or merely splintering apart - each subgroup drifting into its own obsessive and solipsistic corner of the web.