An LED display flashing up on a small red box at a bus stop invites passersby to “Earn money while you wait”. Once it’s read the ID cards people can start. As digital crowd workers they have certain tasks to deal with, are asked to have their eye movements analysed or requested to put spoken words down in writing. These are all responsibilities already undertaken by millions of crowd workers because computers are not (yet) able to. The creation by interactive designers Stefan Bogner and Philipp Schmitt is called Human Element Inc. and part of the How We Will Work exhibition. Human Element Inc. is on the one hand an artistic amplification of crowd working as an issue, but also showcases the activity in the public arena. How We Will Work is one of the many exhibitions shown at the Vienna Biennale 2017, which looks at robotics, digitalisation and tomorrow’s working environments. It was opened in Vienna on 20 June 2017 and is the second time that this interdisciplinary showcase is taking place since its inception in 2015.
The mission statement, issued by the Vienna Biennale 2017: Robots. Work. Our Future, says that the event “…focuses on the potential of art, design, and architecture to contribute to an environmentally and socially sustainable concept of the digital age that is also committed to a new humanism”. And it goes on to say that: “The Vienna Biennale 2017 will examine how essential work is for our identities, what it means to be a human being, our attitude towards life, our prosperity and what hopes and fears are associated with robotics and automation”. The programme is complemented by numerous manifestos on digital rights, how to deal with super-intelligence, working and living together. In other words, these are important issues that Wilkhahn is of course interested in, because looking at and improving tomorrow’s working environments are aspects that are incorporated into our product development processes.
The MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art initiated the event, which is scattered over four main sites and lots of other venues. It’s organised by the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Kunsthalle Wien, the Architekturzentrum Wien and the Vienna Business Agency and supported by the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology as a research partner not affiliated to any university.
Each of the Biennale’s exhibitions runs for different periods of time and ends between July and October 2017. You can find all information about the Vienna Biennale 2017 here: www.viennabiennale.org
Human Element Inc. by interactive designers Stefan Bogner and Philipp Schmitt is also documented online: philippschmitt.com/projects/human-element