7 November 2019–19 January 2020
MGLC – International Centre for Graphic Art, Ljubljana
Danilo Correale, Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Jonas Lund, Michael Mandiberg, Sebastian Schmieg, Guido Segni
Part of the programme:
Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labour and Automation
Labour – one of the defining aspects of our capitalistic societies – is also one of the sides of contemporary life that has been more affected by technological innovations and by the advent of post-Fordism. Although increasing automation has actually caused many forms of human labour to disappear, it has not – as many thinkers have predicted – brought an end to labour. Instead, it has led to – together with other innovations, such as the rise of device culture and social networks – its fragmentation into plenty of micro labours and its infiltration into every moment of life. In other words, today, no matter if we are unemployed, self-employed or working at a regular full-time job, as “technology users” we are always working. Hyperemployment is a group show meant to explore these and other dimensions of what labour has become through the works of eight international artists who have focused their research on the topics of automation and gig economy, the end of free time and self-improvement apps, social media fatigue and quantification, among others.
Reverie, On the Liberation from Work, 2017
At the end of an era that has largely been based on work as a practice and as an ethical value, thinking about a post-work society can be more difficult than realising it. In Reverie, On the Liberation from Work, Danilo Correale collaborates with a New York-based hypnotherapist in drafting two guided hypnosis scripts aimed at relaxing the body and mind in preparation for a post-work society. The work is presented as an installation that isolates the audience from the surrounding environment, facilitating full immersion. The work is not intended as a means of escape from pragmatic discussions on self-organisation and civil rights, but it is rather an attempt to establish a different narrative interaction with time and subjecthood in order to generate a deeper connection with our own selves, our roles as citizens and allies, and the role of art in our time.
Elisa Giardina Papa
Labor of Sleep, 2017
“Labor of Sleep […] consists of a series of short video clips humorously referencing self-improvement apps. The work examines the idea that sleep has become the newest frontier for gathering behavioral and biological data in order to optimize sleeping patterns, thereby turning the time that our bodies use to rest and replenish into a form of labor devoted to data extraction. In this way, digital devices function as both a poison and its remedy, providing relief for the time they take away. The daily exercises and assessments suggested by Labor of Sleep […] rely on a range of motifs that reveal the absurdities of technologically supported self-optimisation. The video clips illustrate how we use technologies to regulate human sleeping habits within the rhythms of a wider system – one that includes humans and non-humans, extending from organic matter to digital devices themselves.” (Christiane Paul)
The Labour of Making Labour Disappear, 2018–2019
The automation of labour has been an ongoing process in Western societies since the advent of the first machines, but developments in artificial intelligence are promising to bring it to completion. Will artistic activity be immune to these developments? Slovenian artist Sanela Jahić presents an ambitious ongoing research based on the programming of a predictive algorithm meant to conceive artworks in her place – the exhibition being the public presentation of these new, machine suggested works. Situating itself in a long tradition of the automation of artistic labour in the field of media art, the project raises uncomfortable questions: can the process of artistic creation be fully automatised? What if the artist fundamentally disagrees with what the machine has produced? If she works alongside the algorithm with both of them creating artworks for the exhibition, would the audience be able to distinguish between the two outputs?
Shouldn’t You Be Working?, 2016
“Printed on transparent background, in a no-frills, operational typeface, Shouldn’t You Be Working? (2016) is a series of stickers to be placed in any leisurely or semi-leisurely environment – from a laptop to a toilet – to act as a perpetual memento of the labourious duties ahead. Named after the text that StayFocusd, a browser plugin with more than 600,000 users, prompts when your allotted time on social media and other procrastination-friendly sites is over, SYBW allows any surface to remind remote workers that they are still tethered to the machine.” (Nicola Bozzi) The work, which will be presented in a new iteration developed specifically for Hyperemployment, iconically represents the new category of workers that Lorusso defined as “entreprecariat”, and ironically summarises the schizophrenic attitude towards work and leisure of the “technology user”.
Talk To Me, 2017–2019
Launched in 2017 as an online project, Talk To Me was presented as a conversational chatbot, trained and modelled on all previous instant message conversations (Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger) as typed by the artist himself to create a smart, machine-learned, automatically talking version of the artist. Up to October 2019, the chatbot replied to people engaging in a conversation speaking with a voice that was a text-to-speech synthesised version of the artist’s voice. Developed in collaboration with artist and designer Federico Antonini, the book version set to premiere at Hyperemployment not only collects all the project’s conversations since 2017, but also reveals a twist that makes the project even more meaningful: the artist was actually chatting for most of the time, playing the bot, enslaved by the software he created.
Quantified Self Portrait (One Year Performance), 2016–2017
Quantified Self Portrait (One Year Performance) is a three-channel video installation documenting a one-year performance in which Michael Mandiberg was involved between 2016 and 2017. Mandiberg used the self-tracking technology of the Quantified Self movement, a trend in the wellness industry that aspires to self-knowledge through tracking one’s personal data. The artist programmed their computer and iPhone to capture screenshots and images every fifteen minutes for one year – a technique used to monitor freelance labour – and tracked their mental, physical and emotional states with a Fitbit and journal. Instead of pursuing wellness and perfection, Quantified Self Portrait (One Year Performance) reveals the artist’s position as a microcosm of a pathologically overworked and increasingly quantified society.
Hopes and Deliveries (Survival Creativity), 2017–2018
Fiverr is a global online marketplace for gig work, each task and service beginning at a cost of $5 per job performed. Exploiting the gig platform’s missing security precautions, the artist downloaded thousands of videos that were produced by gig workers for their clients. From this archive, a selection is shown on two smartphones that are strapped to an empty sweatshirt, using cellphone armbands. In the videos, mass entrepreneurship and mass innovation become visible as a performance of survival creativity: coming up with whatever idea it takes to survive in a competitive field. At the same time, Hopes and Deliveries addresses voyeurism on two levels: on the one hand, it makes visible the people ordering such videos on Fiverr, while on the other hand, offering a glimpse into the more intimate corners of the gig economy.
Demand Full Laziness, 2018–2023
In the times of the obsession for work, the fear of robots and a strong technological acceleration, a new hype is haunting the collective imagination: the hype of dull automation and full laziness. Demand Full Laziness is a five-year plan and a durational performance about art, labour, self-sustenance and laziness. For the next five years (2018–2023), Italian artist Guido Segni will delegate and automate part of the making of his artistic production by the use of a bunch of deep-learning algorithms in order to increase production, to overcome labour in art and to increasingly get abandoned to laziness. During the first year (2018), the machine was trained on deep learning and how to make unique portraits of the artist while lying in bed. The project can be supported on Patreon, a crowdfunding platform specifically conceived for artistic patronage, thus exploring a model of artistic economy that better fits to a post-work society.
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 2011–2016 (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).
Danilo Correale (Italy) is an artist and researcher who lives and works in New York. In his work he analyses aspects of human life such as labour-leisure and sleep, under the lenses of time and body. His work has been presented in numerous group exhibitions, including: 5th Ural Biennial, Yekaterinburg (2019); Broken Nature, Triennale Milano (2019); Istanbul Design Biennial (2018); Riga Biennial (2018); Somatechnic, Museion, Bolzano (2018); Work It Feel It!, Vienna Biennale (2017). Recent solo shows include: TheyWillSayIKilledThem, MAC, Belfast (2017); At Work’s End, Art in General, NYC (2017); Tales of Exhaustion. La Loge, Brussels (2016); The Missing Hour. Rhythms and Algorithms, Raucci/Santamaria, Naples (2015). Correale recently published The Game – A three sided football match, FeC (2014); No More Sleep No More, Archive Books (2015); and Reverie. On the Liberation from Work, Decelerationist Reader (2017). He’s the winner of the 2017 New York Prize for Italian Young Art, the recipient of an Art In General 2017 New Commissions and an Italian Council Grant as well as a 2017 associate research fellow at Columbia University, New York City.
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 Guardian, Financial 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).
Jonas Lund is a Swedish artist who creates paintings, sculpture, photography, websites and performances that critically reflect on contemporary networked systems and the power structures of control. He earned an MA at Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam (2013) and a BFA at Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam (2009). He has had solo exhibitions at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2016); Steve Turner, Los Angeles (2016, 2015, 2014); Växjö Konsthall Sweden (2016); Showroom MAMA, Rotterdam (2013); New Museum, New York City (2012); and has had work included in numerous group exhibitions including at Carrol/Fletcher, London; ZKM, Karlsruhe; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Witte De With, Rotterdam; De Hallen, Haarlem; and the Moving Museum, Istanbul. His work has been written about in Artforum, Kunstforum, Metropolis M, Artslant, Rhizome, Huffington Post, Furtherfield, Wired and more.
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 Artforum, Art in America, ARTnews, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal.
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.
Guido Segni, aka Clemente Pestelli, lives and works somewhere at the intersections between art, pop internet culture and data hallucination. Mainly focused on the daily (ab)use of the internet, his work is characterised by minimal gestures on technology which combine conceptual approaches with a traditional hacker attitude in making things odd, useless and dysfunctional. Co-founder of Les Liens Invisibles, with a background in hacktivism, net art and video art, he has exhibited in galleries, museums (MAXXI, Rome; New School, New York City; KUMU Art Museum, Tallinn) and art & media-art international festivals (Venice Biennale; Transmediale, Berlin). He teaches at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara and directs the imaginary REFRAMED lab and the online greencube.gallery.
Curator: Domenico Quaranta
Artists: Danilo Correale, Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Jonas Lund, Michael Mandiberg, Sebastian Schmieg, Guido Segni
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2019
MGLC – International Centre of Graphic Arts
the Italian Cultural Institute, Ljubljana
Neural – Critical digital culture and media arts, DPG, TAM-TAM
the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana.
Aksioma’s programme is additionally supported by the Ministry of Public Administration as part of the public call for co-financing projects for the development and professionalisation of NGOs and volunteerism.
Automate all the Things!
14–15 January 2020
The Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana