MoneyLab Reader 2: Overcoming the Hype is out. It includes an essay of mine entitled “First as Arts, Then as Tragedy — Two Cents on Personal Crowdfunding and Creative Entrepreneurialism”. The essay is also available in Italian on Not. Order or download a free copy of the book here here. More information:
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This contribution by Martine Folkersma is a shortened version of the introduction to the novel-thesis ‘Art (…) work’, written for the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, department DOGtime IDUM 2017. The text is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.
Art (…) Work shows the divergent positions, workings and subjectivities of artist and worker. The worker behind his desk and the artist in his studio are exemplifications of different roles and identities shaped by a complex of societal (mainly capitalist) constructions, myths and beliefs. The division of the individual in a worker (in general someone with a daily, money-earning job) or an artist (someone who creates artworks, in general in general a practitioner in the visual arts) is a capitalist, Fordist way of assigning the individual its pre-described role and position within society. The worker mostly subjugated to place and time regimes, is in sharp contrast with the artist who is freed from these constrictions by being ‘his own boss’.
The artist (the epitome of this idea of self-reliance) has currently served neoliberalism in exemplifying this notion to us all. The artist has become an example for the worker to become an ‘entrepreneur’, to become free and autonomous in making his own decisions, free in dealing with his own ‘personal management’, also as far as income and (in)security is concerned.
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Last summer Evening Class hosted an event as part of Antiuniversity Now Festival, facilitating a collective discussion on creative labour. Something that came out of the conversations was a shared frustration towards jobboards listing work without any information on wage. To follow on from the event, and put words into action, Evening Class have co-ordinated an open letter requesting all creative jobsboards stop listing work with undisclosed salaries.
The letter can be read here. Entreprecariat is proud to co-sign it.
Some months ago I found myself in Berlin attending Re:Publica, an international conference on innovation meets politics meets branding meets tech. On the main stage, just after the vocal intervention of Russian chess master and activist Garry Kasparov, it was the turn of Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun, experience designer and "manufacturer of the impossible". Ben Hayoun is unanimously described, by the likes of Hans Ulrich Obrist and Micheal Bierut, as a force of nature, "an inexhaustible source of renewable energy". While the sheer scale of her design experiences for clients like NASA, MOMA or Airbnb implies the work of a team ("we work, "we believe", etc.), Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios is evidently framed around a charismatic leader. Their productions are truly impressive, often including two dozen lines of credits. Faced with such a vast and energetic orchestration of talent, any practitioner blanches.
Nelly Ben Hayoun was there, in prime time, to present the University of the Underground, a new postgraduate course created by "dreamers of the day" with the goal of forming the "very hard working" critical thinkers and radical designers that our world is so much in need of these days. A school for the "the Willy Wonkas of modern times, the contemporary Joy Division’s, JG Ballard’s, Marie Curie’s and Rauschenberg’s, action researchers and designers, mythologists and makers of new worlds!" The experience designer stayed faithful to her endorsements: the performance was cheerfully chaotic, with an often giggling audience and multiple plot twists (speaking of charismatic leadership, at a certain point there were three Nelly’s on stage).
The University of the Underground, hosted in Amsterdam by the prestigious Sandberg Instituut but implanted in London as well, is just one among the copious amounts of shorter or longer experiments in alternative education and pedagogy. To stick with the field of design, the Scuola Open Source in the south of Italy comes to mind, as well as the Parallel School or the nomadic Relearn sessions. And, to zoom in the Netherlands, I can mention Hackers and Designers or Open Set. So, what makes the UUG a particularly fascinating case study? Besides its laudable commitment to tuition-free education (more on that below) and the ambitious plan to run the MA for 100 years, the bombastic branding, positioning and charismatic leadership of the University of the Underground, winking at grassroots movements and do-it-yourself experiences but at the same time emphasizing free will and personality, represents a good opportunity to reflect on the meaning of counterculture today and evaluate its potential role. As someone who is intermittently involved in design education, I’m interested in the ways in which institutions are able to seamlessly neutralize, regurgitate and later administer or even steer countercultural expressions. The main motivation behind these notes is an attempt to provide a multifaceted articulation of this process and understand some of its consequences.
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This contribution by Lucia Dossin is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.
This is the story of a creative worker who needs to find a way to supplement his income. Ricardo is an architect. Some years ago, he and his friend Marcelo –with whom he studied– set up a studio (these names are fictional). Recently, he found himself embedded in a fundamental inversion of his work-life routine: in order to be able to pay the bills, he moved into the studio and rented his home via AirBnb. The perversion of the logic in his story doesn’t only revolve around the precarious condition of the creative worker, but is topped with a layer of bitter-sweet irony made of a mix of the ‘work from home’ model and something of the self-gentrification attitude that reminds me of the horror movie Get Out. I found his gesture quite interesting and was curious to hear some of his considerations about his profession. This text was meant to be a conversation – but he never replied to my email.
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This contribution by Giacomo Boffo is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.
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I have made a new piece. It’s called The Funding Machine. Despite being fully conceptual, the artwork has a very practical aim. All that the machine does is transforming applications into grants or, more banally, text and images into money. Although the machine is smart enough to understand what can be transformed into money and what can’t, it is not perfect yet. It consumes quite a lot of body energy and produces waste: paintings, sculptures, installations, books, catalogues, etc. Luckily, some people seem happy to feed the machine with their energy, and to my surprise, many people appreciate its waste: they even pay a sum to admire it, take pictures of it, or bring it home. I’m starting to think that I shouldn’t attempt any improvement, the Funding Machine is fine as it is.
This contribution by Nefula is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.
The Future of Work is a Near Future Design project which focuses on the theme of ‘work’. In line with the Near Future Design methodology, it constructs Curious Rituals, different scenarios about possible futures, each one ironically exaggerating current phenomena, to provoke reactions to issues which may seem paradoxical, but are in fact simple amplifications of actual reality. The project consists of six different scenarios composed through world-building processes, with a speculative approach and a Future Map which includes all of them and suggests their network of relations. The project provides answers and opportunities for discussion around the following question:
How will work transform when Artificial Intelligence, Robots, Algorithms, Drones, and other technologies and related practices (such as Social Networking, Quantified Selves, Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing, Domotics, etc.) will enter our workplace or, in more extended ways, will become commonplace?
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This contribution by Dr. Phoebe Moore is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.
An unstable matrix emerges with the rise of exploitative work contracts, digitalised management interfaces, and intensified tracking capacities which negatively impact working conditions and provide an attempted means to capture and control the totality of life and work in conditions of precarity. New technologies offer the possibility to measure emotional and affective labour, including variable moods and subjectivities, reactions to situations, tone of voice, gestures and other movements that are seen to reflect people’s emotional states and affect as well, as I argue in the book. The measurement tools for all-of-life, in workplaces come in the same packages as health and fitness as well as productivity tracking devices.
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This contribution by Alina Lupu is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.
I fell in love with Frank overnight. It was easy.
Our food delivery bike courier group has a common means of communication: an instant message exchange channel. It’s the perfect substitute for presence. I’ve only ever met three of my supervisors in person: during my onboarding, and during the last 5 months we’ve relied solely on out of person messaging instead. This common channel is perverted to the core by a constant stream of irony, self-deprecation, bouts of rage and the occasional mention of schedule sign-up reminders, city-wide alerts and policy changes; it’s also always available. This is where I learned about Frank, it was from some of my colleagues, but even before that I had the comforting feeling that he was there.
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