Jeff Crouse, Stephanie Rothenberg, and Michael Schieben (USA/Germany)
Laborers of Love (LOL) is a crowd-sourcing project that explores how sexuality and desire are mediated through new technologies, specifically new models of global, outsourced labour.
The project takes the form of an Internet service that uses anonymous online workers to create customised video fantasies. Utilizing Mechanical Turk, an online job engine created by Amazon.com (mturk.com), LOL leverages a global online workforce of workers that are not specific to the sex industry but rather a diverse group of home/computer-based workers. In an assembly-line fashion, Mechanical Turk workers collect images and video related to the fantasy from a variety of websites.
A real time data visualization is then presented on the website consisting of worker locations (Waco, Texas; Bangalore, India) and IP addresses of the mined content (images and video). This visualization maps the process and ‘production’ of the video fantasy.
The final product is a short video mashup, more funny than sexy, where 1970s experimental cinema meets canned Photoshop filters, and ultimately reflects on how desire and pleasure are represented, fragmented and abstracted through the consumption of online digital media.
Jeff Crouse’s work playfully comments on the role of technology in our lives. His work takes many forms, including software, web applications, installations, games, and video – mostly as satire and parody. His collaborative piece with Stephanie Rothenberg, Invisible Threads, is a mixed reality installation about virtual labour, which was featured at the New Frontiers Gallery at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007. His work has also been shown at the DC FilmFest in Washington D.C., the Come Out and Play Festival in Amsterdam, and LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial in Gíjon, Spain. He has received grants from Rhizome and Turbulence, and has completed residencies at Eyebeam and Minneapolis Art on Wheels. Crouse received his MS from the Digital Media program at Georgia Tech in 2006 and then joined Eyebeam from 2007–2010. He is currently a freelance programmer and teaches in the Parsons Design and Technology program.
Stephanie Rothenberg creates provocative interactions that question the boundaries and social constructs of manufactured desires. Through participatory performance, installation and networked media, her work investigates the mediation of the physical, analogue body through the digital interfaces of commodity culture. Adopting the role of cultural anthropologist, the medium of the techno-sphere itself becomes a laboratory for raising critical questions about our interpersonal relationship to technology and its broader socio-political implications. Rothenberg has exhibited, performed and lectured at prestigious venues in Canada, China, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United States, and elsewhere. Rothenberg is co-director of REV-, a non-profit organization based in New York City, that furthers socially engaged art, design, and pedagogy (www.rev-it.org). Rothenberg received her MFA in 2003 from the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Studies at SUNY Buffalo.
Michael Schieben (aka rockitbaby) lives and works in Hamburg, Germany. He is a passionate creative coder and relentless multimedia tinkerer. Schieben has released a steady stream of innovative and thought-provoking software/coding-related projects involving such diverse areas of interest as data visualization, facial recognition and video manipulation