Attention has been rightly expanding across the green, tech, and arts-n-design sectors of the 'net for WC contributor Regine Debatty's recent notes on the talk by artist-engineer Natalie Jeremijenko at the one-day New Cultural Network conference in Amsterdam, published on Regine's blog We Make Money Not Art on Nov. 5. "With Regine and Natalie in the same room, it's a wonder the place didn't implode from sheer with-it-ness," noted WC ally #1 Bruce Sterling.
Natalie decided to work in new media and techno art because the field promised new worlds, new relationships and looked like a place where social and cultural changes were possible.
Developments in technology are mostly done by the military and big corporations, they work for they own interests and what comes out of their R&D labs has unintended consequences and provides artists with opportunities to create social changes...
How Stuff Is Made is an online visual encyclopedia started 4 years ago. It visually documents every process in the production of goods. If you wanted to transform the industry into something more sustainable which strategy would you prefer? Would your method be characterized by secrecy and non disclosure agreements? Or would you rather promote openness and communicate where are the new ideas, the good materials? If you think of what you possess and what you wear, how much can you really account for? Do you know anything about the labor conditions? Or how these products recycle once they are dumped? We are supposed to live right into the information age, we often complain of being flooded with too much information, yet we know very little when it comes to toxic activities.
For the How Stuff Is Made visual essays, each students have to make their way inside manufactories and discuss with workers, employees, designers, etc. The students document every processes, labor conditions and environmental impacts involved in the production of the good. Afterwards they list a series of suggestions to improve the manufacturing process. Making some discoveries along the way: such as Chinese workers receiving 45 cents per hour to make the American flag or Chinese fortune cookie made mostly in Chicago by Hispanics. One of the project's aims is to redirect manufacturing practices and consumer purchasing decisions toward a transparent and legible information base.