2 Apr

Exhibition opening #Arbeid van de dag

1:00 pm

#Labour of the Day

by Agata Jaworska
April 6th, 2014

#Labour of the Day by De Brakke Grond and Droog is an exhibition and event series that questions the future of work. Designers and artists Revital Cohen and Tuur van Balen, Thomas Lommée and Christiane Högner (Intrastructures / LoFi Studio), Pieter-Jan Pieters (OWOW) and Caro Van den Hole (MaisonCaro) developed projects to provoke discussions about the future of work. Will we design and produce our own products in the future, issue instructions to robots, or rather do what a computer tells us?

Thursday, April 2nd marked the opening of the exhibitions at De Brakke Grond and Hotel Droog, and was followed by a discussion. “We don't have audiences anymore, we have people who like to participate,” said moderator Karim Benammar in his introduction at the ROOMSERVICE cafe of Hotel Droog. The discussion was flipped in the sense that it was the designers who were posing questions, and the audience was asked to provide answers.

Tuur van Balen, whose work explores process of production and materials as social, ethical and political processes, asked how connected are we as consumers to the processes of labour. “Is labour in control of the product or is the product controlling the labour?”

Caro Van den Hole was challenged by what the ultimate outcome of automization will be: “If everything gets automated, what will there be left for us to do? What makes us different from a machine or computer?”

Thomas Lommée was bothered by the tyranny of the screen. While we are stuck working on the computer, all the fun work goes to the 3D printer. His question was: “How can I venture into craft without it getting too expensive?”

Pieter-Jan Pieters rather took an anti-nostalgic stance asking what we can do with technology without going back to crafting. “What is our next task? What is the thing you don't want the robot to do?”

Speaking about the value of the human, Van den Hole wondered if computers could make uncontrollable mistakes. Can the uniqueness of human beings be of value and how can we make money from that? Can human error create a model for computers?

Pieters wondered why one would want to make computers that make mistakes, stating that computers can translate the human into the computer. His focus is more on increasing the nuance of how we control the computer.

From the audience, it was pointed out that the brain is constantly searching for mistakes. We perceive something wrong in symmetrical faces. Can a computer make thoughts at random to improve uniqueness or do we have to do it ourselves?

Using the screen as a reference, Van Balen asked “if we are on the screen, who is going to make the screens and who is controlling them? Technologies are political and they have agency.” Pieter-Jan disagreed, noting that robots, like guns or other techonologies, are only bad if you use them badly. It is always the humans that are responsible for the use of the technology. Van Balen pointed out that complex systems are very different from an object such as a gun in the sense that there is no single person that is responsible for the entire system. The level of technological complexity has increased, and made responsibility less clear, especially because we can not understand the whole system.

From the audience, Renny Ramakers stated, “In the past, we all had a responsibility towards the products and service we bought. When your neighbour was not behaving well, you knew it. Now you don't know where things come from and how they are made.” To which Lommée answered, “We are too accepting. You only need one person to tape the conditions and the footage can spread all over the world. We have much more power than we realize.”

The event is supported by the AFK (Amsterdam Fund for the Arts).