Hirshhorn Plaza

Lunch Bytes: September 12th EventDigital Work: Labor, Likes and Artistic Production
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
12–2 pm
Goethe-Institut Washington/DC


  • Petra Cortright, Santa Barbara-based artist
  • Rafael Rozendaal, New York-based artist
  • Philipp Albers, writer, co-founder of Zentrale Intelligenz Agentur

The meaning and experience of labor has dramatically changed with the rise of digital technologies. How we understand labor and how, where, and when we work – including the expectations, investments, and loyalties that are attached to ‘a job’ – have all been transformed by information and communication technologies that have enabled labor to become flexible, remote, real-time, and virtually ‘weightless’. In addition this has also obscured the borders that traditionally separated work from leisure, time off from being ‘on the clock’. This relates to the status of the by now ubiquitous figure of the digital ‘prosumer’ who indulges in social media by consuming, redistributing, remixing, and thereby also producing new ‘user-generated content’ on the internet. Increasingly, his/her work (which mostly does not feel like work) and the affective networks that are established through this work are being exploited by marketing agencies looking to capitalize on this new form of ‘immaterial’ or ‘free’ labor, which divulges user tastes and preferences without any measure of compensation.

The first Lunch Bytes event in the fall season 2012 examines questions like the following: What is the status of ‘work’ or ‘labor’ in today’s digital economy? How have digital technologies affected artistic labor and the status of the artist as a producer of artwork? How has the creation, distribution and consumption of artworks been transformed? How has this impacted the art market? For instance: is digital work sellable and are online art fairs actually working?

Organized by 
Kevin Hull & Melanie Bühler 

Co-sponsored by 
Goethe-Institute & Pro Helvetia