Tactics & Practice #8: Automate All The Things!

Tactics & Practice #8:

14–15 January 2020

The Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana
Moderna galerija

Curated by
Domenico Quaranta, Janez Fakin Janša

Speakers: Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Michael Mandiberg, Domenico Quaranta, Sašo Sedlaček, Sebastian Schmieg

Part of the Tactics & Practice series and of the programme Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labour and Automation

In the framework of Hyperemployment, the symposium AUTOMATE ALL THE THINGS! wants to explore a contradiction implicit in the increasing automation of work: is this process, which should apparently open up a new age of free time, no labour and universal basic income, instead turning humans into software agents, invisible slaves of the machines? Welcomed as a curse by the Luddites at the very beginning of the industrial age, throughout the 20th century, automation did not destroy human labour, but profoundly changed its organisation on a global scale. In the late-20th century, technological innovations brought automation to a brand new level, accelerating the shift toward a post-industrial economic model. Today, with many jobs previously run by humans becoming fully automated, the dream – or nightmare – of a post-work society seems closer than ever; and yet, at a closer look, automation in its current form isn’t destroying human labour. Rather, it is making it invisible.


14 January 2020 at 11 AM
The Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana, Erjavčeva cesta 23, Ljubljana, classroom 7, first floor

Domenico Quaranta
Portraying the Invisible Crowd

Throughout history, portraying workers has often been a step into recognising their existence, allowing them the dignity to be considered as a subject, as well as the representatives of a “class”. Digging into the research for the show, Hyperemployment’s curator Domenico Quaranta will offer a tour through various artistic efforts to portray online workers, from Chinese Gold Farmers to scan-ops, from gig workers to online content moderators.

15 January 2020 at 5 PM
Moderna galerija Auditorium, Cankarjeva cesta 15, Ljubljana


Elisa Giardina Papa
Notes on Post-Work: Free Time and the Human Infrastructures that Sustain Automation and Artificial Intelligence

Most of the academic and political discourse on post-work has focused on the relationship between automation and free time. That is, it has posited that automation has the emancipatory potential to free us all from work: to reduce necessary working hours or at least to devote ourselves to more intellectually rewarding jobs (immaterial labour). What is not fully convincing about this approach is that it is grounded in a hierarchical separation between machines and humans. What is missing is the acknowledgment of the human infrastructure that sustains automation and artificial intelligence. The invisible, precarious, alienated, low-paid and offshored workforce that automation requires in order to function properly. These workers and their tasks are the focus of this talk.

Sebastian Schmieg
I Will Say Whatever You Want In Front Of A Pizza

I Will Say Whatever You Want In Front Of A Pizza is a speculative Prezi (a presentation software) that explores digital labour, the amalgamation of humans and software, and the possibility of interventions inside algorithmic systems. Narrated from the perspective of a cloud worker, the Prezi video presents digital workers as software extensions. The ubiquitous network and the computerisation of everything have not only blurred the lines between bots and people – supposedly autonomous programs are sometimes people who have to act as if they were software; this development has also made it very easy for everyone to hire, programme and retire humans as part of any workflow: bodies and minds that can be plugged in, rewired and discarded as one sees fit.

Silvio Lorusso

Entreprecariat (Krisis Publishing, 2018; Onomatopee, 2019) explores and maps out the current entrepreneurial ideology from a precarious perspective. The Entreprecariat indicates a reality where change is natural and healthy, whatever it may bring. A reality populated by motivational posters, productivity tools, mobile offices and self-help techniques. A reality in which a mix of entrepreneurial ideology and widespread precarity is what regulates professional social media, online marketplaces for self-employment and crowdfunding platforms for personal needs. The result? A life in permanent beta, with sometimes tragic implications.

Sanela Jahić, Michael Mandiberg, Sašo Sedlaček
Art Making in the Age of Automation
Moderator: Domenico Quaranta

How does the increasing automation of labour affect artistic practice, on all the levels of content, process and form? How is it affecting the present society and our vision of the future? What can art do to deal with the increasing fragmentation of human labour and its disappearance from visibility, and give it back its presence and dignity? Taking off from their own work and from the statements of other participants in the symposium, the artists involved in the round table will attempt to offer an answer to these and other questions.


Elisa Giardina Papa is an Italian artist whose work investigates gender, sexuality and labour in relation to neoliberal capitalism and the Global South. Her work has been exhibited and screened at MoMA, New York City, Whitney Museum [Sunrise/Sunset Commission], Seoul Mediacity Biennale 2018, Unofficial Internet Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale, XVI Quadriennale di Roma, rhizome.org [Download Commission], The Flaherty NYC, among others. Giardina Papa received an MFA from RISD, and a BA from Politecnico of Milan, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in media and gender studies at the University of California Berkeley. She lives and works in New York and Sant’Ignazio (Sicily).

Sanela Jahić graduated in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana in 2008, and received her master’s degree in 2010 in public art and new artistic strategies from the Bauhaus University in Weimar. Jahić is an intermedia artist who constructs visual and technologically supported kinetic objects and installations. Her artistic practice often involves collaboration with specialists for mechanical engineering, automation, software and electronics. She lives and works in Škofja Loka. Jahić has exhibited her work in numerous shows in Slovenia and abroad.

Silvio Lorusso’s work focuses on the cultures and rhetorical regimes embedded in techno-social systems. He deals with the narratives and counternarratives that define platforms, devices and interfaces. By doing so, he engages with the tensions surrounding notions of labour, productivity, autonomy, self-design, entrepreneurialism, precarity and failure. Lorusso’s practice combines various media such as video, websites, artist’s books, installations, lectures. An affiliated researcher at the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam, a tutor at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, and a researcher at Willem De Kooning Academy, his work has been presented internationally, in venues including Re:Publica, Berlin; MAXXI, Rome; Transmediale, Berlin; Drugo more, Rijeka; Kunsthalle Wien; MoneyLab, Amsterdam; IMPAKT, Utrecht; Sight & Sound, Montreal; Adhocracy, Athens. His work has been featured in, among others, the GuardianFinancial Times and Wired. He lives in Rotterdam and lectures internationally. His book Entreprecariat was published in Italian by Krisis (Brescia, 2018) and in English by Onomatopee (Eindhoven, 2019).

Michael Mandiberg is an interdisciplinary artist whose work crosses multiple forms and disciplines in order to trace the lines of political and symbolic power as it takes shape online. Mandiberg received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a BA from Brown University. Mandiberg’s projects have been presented at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the New Museum, New York City; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Denny Dimin Gallery, Art-in-Buildings Financial District Project Space, New York City; Arizona State University Museum & Library, Tempe; and Transmediale, Berlin, amongst others. Mandiberg’s work has been written about widely, including in ArtforumArt in AmericaARTnewsthe New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal.

Domenico Quaranta is a contemporary art critic and curator. His work focuses on the impact of the current means of production and dissemination of the arts, and on the way they respond – syntactically and semantically – to the technological shift. The author of In My Computer (2011), Beyond New Media Art (2013) and AFK. Texts on Artists 20112016 (2016), he has contributed to, edited or co-edited a number of books and catalogues including GameScenes. Art in the Age of Videogames (2006) and THE F.A.T. MANUAL (2013). Since 2005, he has curated and co-curated many exhibitions, including: Holy Fire. Art of the Digital Age (2008); RE:akt! (2009–10); Playlist (2009–10); Collect the WWWorld (2011–12); Unoriginal Genius (2014); Cyphoria (2016), Janez Janša® (2017–18) and Escaping the Digital Unease (2017–18). He lectures internationally and is a faculty member at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara. He is a co-founder of the Link Art Center, Brescia (2011–19).

Sebastian Schmieg is an artist living and working in Berlin. His work engages with the algorithmic circulation of images, texts and bodies within contexts that blur the boundaries between human and software, individual and crowd, or labour and leisure. At the centre of his practice are playful interventions into found systems that explore hidden – and often absurd – aspects behind the glossy interfaces of our networked society. Schmieg works in a wide range of media such as video, website, installation, artist book, custom software and lecture performance. Schmieg’s works have been shown at, among others, The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Rhizome, New York; Transmediale, Berlin; NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf; Panke Gallery, Berlin. He lives and works in Berlin and Dresden

Sašo Sedlaček holds a BA in sculpture and video from the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of Ljubljana (UL ALUO). Since 2015, he works as an associate professor in UL ALUO’s Video and New Media programme. His work has been awarded various grants, including the Trend Award for exceptional achievements in visual culture (Ljubljana 2012) and the VIDA 11 (Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, 2008), and is featured in various private and public collections, including the Museum & Galleries of Ljubljana (MGML). Since 2001, his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at various venues, most recently: City Art Gallery of Ljubljana (2019), Espace Apollonia in Strasbourg (2018), Contemporary Art Palazzo Torriani, Gradisca d’Isonzo (2018), Autostrada Biennale Prizren (2017), Handel Street Projects, London (2017); UGM, Maribor (2017); +MSUM, Ljubljana (2016); AND Festival, Grizedale Forest (2015); Wro Art Center, Wrocław (2015); Ars Electronica, Linz (2014); Transmediale, Berlin (2014).


Curated by
Domenico Quaranta, Janez Fakin Janša

Speakers: Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Michael Mandiberg, Domenico Quaranta, Sašo Sedlaček, Sebastian Schmieg

Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2020

Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana
and the Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana

the Italian Cultural Institute, Ljubljana

Supported by:
the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana.


Michael Mandiberg
Postmodern Times
7–10 January 2020
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

7 November 2019–19 January 2020
MGLC – International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubljan

Curator: Domenico Quaranta
Featured artists: Danilo Correale, Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Jonas Lund, Michael Mandiberg, Sebastian Schmieg, Guido Segni

Jaka Babnik

Elisa Giardina Papa
The Cleaning of Emotional Data
15 January–14 February 2020
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

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