SEE IMAGES FROM THE PRIVATE VIEW
Would you like to monetise your social relations? Learn from hostile designs? Take part in (unwitting) data extractions in exchange for public services?
Examining the way that the boundaries between ‘play’ and ‘labour’ have become increasingly blurred, this summer, Playbour: Work, Pleasure, Survival, will transform Furtherfield Gallery into an immersive environment comprising a series of games. Offering glimpses into the gamification of all forms of life, visitors are asked to test the operations of the real-world, and, in the process, experience how forms of play and labour feed mechanisms of work, pleasure, and survival.
What it means to be a worker is expanding and, over the last decade, widening strategies of surveillance and new sites of spectatorship online have forced another evolution in what can be called ‘leisure spaces’. From the self-made celebrity of the Instafamous to the live-streaming of online gamers, many of us shop, share and produce online, 24/7. In certain sectors, the seeming convergence of play and labour means work is sold as an extension of our personalities and, as work continues to evolve and adapt to online cultures, where labour occurs, what is viewed as a product, and even, our sense of self, begins to change.
Today, workers are asked to expand their own skills and build self-made networks to develop new avenues of work, pleasure and survival. As they do, emerging forms of industry combine the techniques and tools of game theory, psychology and data science to bring marketing, economics and interaction design to bear on the most personal of our technologies – our smartphones and our social media networks. Profiling personalities through social media use, using metrics to quantify behaviour and conditioning actions to provide rewards, have become new norms online. As a result, much of public life can be seen as part of a process of ‘capturing play in pursuit of work’.
Although these realities affect many, very little time is currently given over to thinking about the many questions that arise from the blurring between work and play in an age of increasingly data-driven technologies: How are forms of ‘playbour’ impacting our health and well-being? What forms of resistance could and should communities do in response?
To gain a deeper understanding of the answers to these questions, we worked with artists, designers, activists, sociologists and researchers in a three-day co-creation research lab in May 2018. The group engaged in artist-led experiments and playful scenarios, conducting research with fellow participants acting as ‘workers’ to generate new areas of knowledge. This exhibition in Furtherfield Gallery is the result of this collective labour and each game simulates an experience of how techniques of gamification, automation and surveillance are applied to the everyday in the (not yet complete) capture of all forms of existence into wider systems of work.
In addition to a performance by Steven Ounanian during the Private View, the ‘games’ that comprise this exhibition are:
Lab session leads and participants: Dani Admiss, Kevin Biderman, Marija Bozinovska Jones, Ruth Catlow, Maria Dada, Robert Gallager, Beryl Graham, Miranda Hall, Arjun Harrison Mann, Maz Hemming, Sanela Jahic, Annelise Keestra, Steven Levon Ounanian, Manu Luksch, Itai Palti, Andrej Primozic, Michael Straeubig, Cassie Thornton, Cecilia Wee, Jamie Woodcock.
Curated by Dani Admiss.
Concept development Dani Admiss and Cecilia Wee.
Mask Making for Children
Sunday 22 July and 12 August 2018, 11:00 – 16:30
When I was 16 I was in a band. I couldn’t sing that well so I used to write lyrics (about vampires) and put them into Babelfish to translate them into French thinking it made me sound automatically cooler.
First met you in a dial up world; green block letters on a black screen. Later we traversed through neon colours, pixelated images and imperfect designs. I always knew you were an army brat born out of apocalyptic fears but I never thought you’d turn your back on the counter-culture who raised you. Maybe there will be a third act…
Marija Bozinovska Jones
The internet has concurrently enhanced and diminished life, yet I appear no longer able to recall life before it. Adding to Jameson’s quote: it is easier to imagine the end of the world, than the end of TECHNOcapitalism.
I am a recovering Web Utopian – decentralised infrastructure does not, it turns out, lead automatically to decentralised power. However i am still most excited by art that happens in wild flows, through collaboration on open channels, rather than being owned, certified and traded like dead matter. I am Ruth and I am one of the voices and pairs of eyes.
I regularly translate whole books from German to English using Google Translate. I then take the transcripts and print them using lulu.com. I take pride in the design of the covers for each book. Not all of them are unreadable but most of them just sit on my shelf untouched.
To buying a mobile phone so that I could text my sweetie.
To being mildly obsessed with weather apps that work best in the North.
To using online dating 15 years ago. The respectable Guardian rather than Tindr of course – hey I’m not an animal.
After school, my friend and I would take screenshots of penises on ChatRoulette then save them in a desktop folder on the family computer called ‘cool fish’
For Much Longer than I Would Care to Admit, Every Since I Got Msn at the Age of 12, My Msn Profile Picture Was (and I Just Checked, Still Is), a Photoshopped Collage of Michael Jordan.
When I was 11, lying about my age to sign up on msn chat to chat about neopets, I ended up as one of the chatroom moderators. Which sometimes ended up with me leaving the window open to idle overnight (or the room would close). On the bonus side when my parents ended up with a bill at the end of the month of £200 (which I didn’t know would happen) we did get broadband. Much cheaper.
The unread emails in my inbox currently outnumber my Twitter followers by a factor of 47.7461024499 to 1.
Once my inbox got flooded with promotions of an online store. So my boyfriend and I composed a simple bot, which took random quotes from our sci-fi eBooks collection and posted them as customer reviews on their product pages.
Until more recently than I would admit, I genuinely didn’t think there was any correlation between the file size of a download and data use. As if, there were two kinds of “GB”. Please don’t judge me.
Steven Levon Ounanian
I think the internet loves me, but just doesn’t know how to show it.
Our dream rewired. Our powers of prediction grow with every new circuit crammed in. Leap into tomorrow – one trillion calculations a second. And it grows more powerful, becomes smaller. Smart, mobile, personal. Today – in our pockets. Tomorrow – woven into our bodies. Create and share, everything, everywhere. Life in the cloud… with a chance of blue skies. Our time is a time of total connection. Distance is zero. The future is transparent. To be, is to be connected – the network seeks out everyone.” (Dreams Rewired; 2015 – my latest feature film about our hopes and fears of being hyper-connected).
I started visiting an architecture news forum as a teenager, excited about updates on local building projects. I still visit regularly for the updates, but also make sure to check on an exceptionally cringeworthy, decades-long feud between a couple of regular posters. I think they’d really miss each other if it all stopped.
Back in 1999, frustrated, I nurtured no love for my iMacG3 as I had to bare with 1-song-download-per-week for not having Napster.
Before social networks and Reddit, newsgroups were the places for online discussions. Catering to my interests was comp.ai.philosphy, a group notorious for debates going haywire.
Once I had a very heated discussion with someone I considered to be an immature and irrational teenager. It turned out it was a professor in Artificial Intelligence.
I own/owned these URLs: bizzykitty.com, temporaryartbeautyservices.biz, infinitemuseum.com, evilarchitexture.net, teachingartistunion.org, sfluxuryrealestatejewelry.org, mastercalendar.biz, debtimage.work, institutionaldreaming.com, poetsecurity.net, universityofthephoenix.com, debt2space.info, secretchakra.net, wombco.in, givemecred.com, wealthofdebt.com, strikedebtradio.org, matterinthewrongplace.info, futureunincorporated.com, feministeconomicsdepartment.com, projectherapy.org, and many more I will never remember.
The first time I went on the internet was about 1 year after Cyberia cafe opened in central London. I somehow convinced my mum to make a detour from a shopping trip so I could go online to look at 2 websites. Everyone else there was working very hard.
I decided it would be a fun idea to learn to play League of Legends as part of the fieldwork for an esports project. However, I was so bad at it that instead I had to study before playing, reading up on guides and watching streams/videos.
In the lead up to Furtherfield’s Playbour: Work, Pleasure, Survival exhibition Maria Dada, Miranda Hall and Cassie Thornton will be taking over the social media channels on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Each micro-commission is an online space to take in different directions related ideas and themes of #playbour.
Our first week kicks off with Maria. Researcher in the fields of design and material culture, Dada’s Confessional Viral Hoax Engine brings together an interest in the infrastructures and processes used to spread misinformation online with themes of transparency, anxiety, and virtue signalling.
The second week is headed by Miranda Hall, who is a freelance journalist and research assistant at SOAS specialising in digital labour.
In the final week Cassie Thornton, artist, activist and feminist economist, will take-over Furtherfield’s social media channels. You can learn more about her here and her new project being launched on Kickstarter. Her take-over explores ideas surrounding yoga, feminist economics, class war, collective revenge, and social technology.
Dani Admiss is an independent curator and researcher working across art, design, and networked cultures. Her work employs world-building and co-creation to explore changes happening to our social, technological, and ecological, contexts. She is particularly interested in working with others to understand not yet completed transformations of body, society, and earth, into global capitalist systems. She is Founder of Playbour: Work, Pleasure, Survival, an art and research platform dedicated to the study of the worker in an age of data technologies. daniadmiss.com
Furtherfield is an internationally renowned arts organisation specialising in labs, exhibitions and debate for increased, diverse participation with emerging technologies. At Furtherfield Gallery and Furtherfield Lab in London’s Finsbury Park, we engage more people with digital creativity, reaching across barriers through unique collaborations with international networks of artists, researchers and partners. Through art Furtherfield seeks new imaginative responses as digital culture changes the world and the way we live.
Finsbury Park, London, N4 2NQ
This project would not have been possible without the kind support of our partners.
This project has been funded with the support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Playbour: Work, Pleasure, Survival, is realized in the framework of State Machines, a joint project by Aksioma (SI), Drugo More (HR), Furtherfield (UK), Institute of Network Cultures (NL) and NeMe (CY).