INVISIBLE LABOR

Lucian Indrei

October 7 – November 4 2016


“You push the button, we do the rest”. That was in 1900. Now it’s 2016 and if we look around us one can feel that this phrase is truer than ever before, as if time stood still for more than a century. Of course things have changed dramatically. For example the company that sustained such claim filed for bankruptcy in 2012, even though it shaped the XX th century, having become a “curator of our memories”. (Kodak has been replaced by Apple and Samsung and so on, as the camera or recording device/medium of choice, as we are now taking more photographs than ever: Whatsapp, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram have together more than 20000 uploads every second, and those are, uhm, “curated”).

To take a photograph has never been so easy. There´s no work at all, per se, once you command the camera what to do, the results are, most of the time, instantaneous. You don’t need to put film anymore and process it, all you need is a camera. And you can alter and edit your pictures as much as you want. It´s all at the expense of a push and swipe, and of course the price of the camera. The machine performs all the labor, and it does so in an invisible way. This is a paradox of photography that Flusser pointed out, the camera renders the visible in an invisible way. You cannot look inside a sensor, or a film compartment to see how the image takes birth. It needs complete darkness, and only a controlled exposure to light. Wherever the history of the labor that goes into an object’s making is concealed, this creates a false freedom like that of the bourgeois market, Marx would say. (Against this you can document the history that led you to take a certain picture, that’s what artists do) From this immaterial perspective photography has more to do with performance than with anything else. Everything and everybody performs for the camera, or at least they appear to do so.

Not far from now, in this century, sight could be recorded. It is not sure it will happen, but they are working on it. No more pushing buttons, all you need to do is just open your eyes. Imagine everyone being aware of being recorded all the time. God does that. How will we perform? (i.e. Black Mirror TV series). Does divinity experience reality simultaneously through everything that has senses as a hyper layered installation? Is this where we are headed? Until then we can enjoy our current paradigm that has past, present and future all wrapped together somehow in a multiverse. As for the Totaliverse that is to come…

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The event is supported by Cluj-Napoca City Hall and Cluj-Napoca City Council and co-financed by AFCN – National Cultural Fund Administration. The project does not necessarily represent the position of the National Cultural Fund Administration. AFCN is not responsible for the project’s content or the way in which its results can be used. These fall under the financial beneficiary’s full responsibility.