Unfollow is a music video by Yung Jake featuring a man haunted by the shadows of a former relationship. With the omnipresence of social media in our daily lives, breaking up in the physical world no longer suffices: posts by his ex-lover still appear in his newsfeed, reminding him of her presence and thus making it harder from him to let go of his relationship. As the ‘unfollow’ button on social media appears to be the only way to break up completely, Unfollow underlines the barrier between our online and offline identities and the difficulty to separate them.
Yung Jake is a visual artist and YouTube rapper based in Los Angeles whose work fuses new media, music, and art. Deeply rooted in a millennial zero, his practice incorporates the vernaculars of social media, internet and rap culture, and combines them through a playful use—or misuse—of digital technology.
Yung Jake came to prominence after releasing the music video Datamosh in 2011, a work where the artist deliberately applied glitches and pixelation to give the footage a hallucinogenic, dream-like effect. A year later he released the video E.m-bed.de/d, which somehow takes over the viewer’s browser to deliver a music video through an elaborate sequence of transitions between pop-ups that open, close, expand and flicker.
Although several of his works are developed entirely for the internet, some pieces by Yung Jake are sculptural or designed to hang on a wall. In a recent series of sculptures, the artist combines prints of popular video-game and cartoon characters with scrap metal, spray paint, stickers, tape, ink, monitors and handwritten text. Another popular body of work is comprised by portraits of celebrities—such as Kim Kardashian, David Bowie, Anthony Bourdain and many others—made entirely out of emojis. Beyond their overt relationship to the hustle and bustle of social media, in the words of the artist: “when things are iconic/famous it's safe to assume most people have a relationship with that thing so it fills an object with energy in a way.”