Immaterial Labour Isn't Working


Immaterial Labour Isn’t Working was a series of free events and workshops that ran from 20th April to 12th May 2013. The programme brought together activists, artists, writers and technologists to discuss the problems and possibilities digital technology offers the contemporary worker and to examine how it is changing our political selves.

On this page you will find a selection of recordings from the ILIW13 series. Further details about each of the events and more information about the speakers involved can be found on the programme schedule.

Open Access Publishing

What does culture look like when the tools to make and broadcast exist on every laptop?

Alex Vasudevan, Georgina Voss and Alex Hern joined Alex Andrews to discuss contemporary trends in culture and intellectual property. How are developing technologies effecting the copyright regime, and how are difficulties in enforcing copyright leading to innovations in music, academia and computer games?


Metahaven in Conversation with Harry Burke

Dutch research and design studio Metahaven joined Harry Burke to discuss projects both past and present and introduced their new Strelka Press released e-book project: Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? Memes, Design and Politics.


New Luddism

Who benefits from and is in charge of new technology? What could a life with less rather than more technological innovation be like?

Taking ideas of traditional Luddism as a point for departure, Jessica Bland, Dougald Hine, Dave King (part of Luddites 200) and Jay Springett joined Huw Lemmey to discuss the possibilities for engaging with new technologies and what our relationships to these technologies have become now that it is increasingly difficult to truly “switch off”.


Postfordism and Mental Health

In the digital age the separation between work and leisure is becoming increasingly blurred. When are we truly “away from our desks” and how do our ill-defined online existences affect our mental health?

Hannah Black, Mark Fisher and Ramona joined Huw Lemmey to discuss the relationship between Post-Fordist work conditions and contemporary concerns regarding the mental health of the worker.


The Shape of the Contemporary Workplace

Joanna Figiel and Stevphen Shukaitis (Metropolitan Factory) discuss contemporary working conditions for precarious workers within the arts, culture and education and how we understand our own working lives.


The Hole in the Network where the Humans Shine Through – a talk by Eleanor Saitta

Give up on legibility and the coherence of politics, because you’re never going to get it again, and understand that this is a blessing. Plan on losing every battle for the rest of your lives to the ubiquitous surveillance state and network-control state that follows it and understand that you still get to, as a collective entity, completely determine what those losses mean and who is losing.


The Digital, The Immaterial & The Workers’ Inquiry: a conversation about resistance and autonomy

What’s immaterial about immaterial labour? Does the digital worker balancing three jobs at once, checking her emails on her iPhone last thing at night before being woken by an alarm six hours later, share anything in common with the featureless but heroic immaterial labourer once seen as an emancipatory figure? Does ‘immaterial labour’ really properly name the kind of work we do – and what kind of work is that?

James Butler and Aaron Peters of Novara Media led a discussion addressing these questions and ideas.


(In)visibility and Labour

Following on from the subjects discussed in the series so far, writers Will Wiles and James Bridle joined Ben Vickers to discuss the relationships between visibility, labour, aesthetics and technology, from the relationship between class and hi-visibility workwear to Internet Eyes and distributed automation.


The Aesthetics of Immaterial Labour

Although a blurring of the boundaries between leisure, work and artistic practice seems like an apt description of many artists’ living situations, this session questions why the concept of ‘immaterial labour’ has become so popular within the art world in recent years. Kerstin Stakemeier, Larne Abse Gogarty and Josefine Wikström discussed their positions on this topic and questioned where the concept of ‘immaterial labour’ can take us, politically, within the art world.


Big Data, Social Networks, Data Selves

Jay Owen and Ed Manley joined Alex Andrews to ask what it means to be intensively connected; attached at every waking moment, blurring the boundaries of self-performance, work and leisure? How do the micro-banalities of every day life – from the daily commute to work, to the walk in the park – play out on a vast aggregate macro level of Big Data? What is it to have a self on a social network, a data self?


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