Denny Gallery is pleased to present New Work, a solo exhibition by Michael Mandiberg. The exhibition will include a series of new video works and photographic installations. In addition, New Work includes a sound installation and a video that are part of Michael Mandiberg: Workflow, a related project at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Mandiberg has a longstanding interest in the culture of labor and the impact of technology on our everyday lives and work habits. New Work brings together artwork in a variety of media that explores and questions the way the self can be measured and performed through the use of technology, and investigates the way in which pervasive personal technology has shifted labor practices.
Among the works on view will be Quantified Self Portrait (One Year Performance), a three-channel video that was recently on view at LACMA. The work is composed of photos and screenshots captured by Mandiberg’s computer every 15 minutes for a year, using a technique that employers use to monitor remote employees. Mandiberg also kept a daily journal for the duration of the performance; the third screen of the video work features a few sentences distilled from each entry, which convey Mandiberg’s state of being each day.
The year long sound installation Quantified Self Portrait (Rhythms), which is currently on view at LACMA, pairs the sound of the artist’s heart rate, with the sound of email alerts as Mandiberg sent and received them. The work at Denny Gallery will play at the same day and time at which it was recorded, one year later. The work reflects what Mandiberg describes as a pathologically overworked and increasingly quantified society, revealing a personal political economy of data. Together, the works offer at once a deeply intimate window into the artist’s life, as well as one that is more universal. They reflect the way our vision of self representation, and the various modes for collecting and transmitting our personal data both present and mask our interior lives, undermining the idea that we can truly represent ourselves.
Mandiberg has a long history of creating artworks that take as their starting point the presentation of self. In 2001 Mandiberg created an e-commerce site called Shop Mandiberg, in which all of the artist’s possessions were for sale – from clothing to computer equipment to food. The durational performance was online for one year, and explored the notion of identity as an idea constructed through consumerism. Mandiberg’s ongoing interest in political economies and labor practices is further explored in New Work, through a large-scale photography installation that documents workers around the world, as well as through a full-length recreation of the film Modern Times.
View from the Window at Work features a grid of hundreds of images taken by workers that Mandiberg employed on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Each person was paid 25 cents to take a photo outside the window in the room they work in, which Mandiberg then compiled into a grid of 4×6 images. The images reveal small details about the workers via the views seen from their windows, yet also blend into each other to form a general perspective of the now prevalent forms of immaterial labor in the digital age, where remote work is common, and the impersonal practice of hiring people for one-off tasks is ubiquitous.
Also on view will be Postmodern Times (2016-17), a shot-by-shot recreation of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. Mandiberg commissioned short clips of the film from online workers on the digital platform Fiverr.com, which he interspersed with clips from the original film. Each clip was produced by different workers, resulting in a fragmented and chaotic film that reflects the conditions of digital labor itself. The work also features a score that weaves together various interpretations of the original soundtrack, including a generic presentation of the MIDI data, passionate interpretations of the original score performed by musicians on Fiverr.com, and traces of the original score and foley sounds to connect the sound back to the original score. The transformative remix produces a chaotic soundtrack that splinters into digital glitches, only to reassemble around key leitmotifs present in the original score, which itself is representative of the conditions of the work’s creation. On December 19, the film will also be installed at LACMA in a screening that will follow a full union schedule, stopping for breaks accordingly, mirroring the schedule of a once routine but now atypical work day.
Together, the works on view reflect both the emotional language of data, and the way in which it creates a pervasive anonymity between people, both as we attempt to measure our personal selves using technology, and as we adopt remote work practices that minimize human contact.