Invisible Threads, Jeff Crouse & Stephanie Rothenberg

2008, USA

Invisible Threads explores the growing intersection between labor, emerging virtual economies and real life commodities enabled through global, telematic production. Designed as a retail kiosk, real world customers order “Double Happiness” jeans on-demand through a sweatshop created in the virtual environment of “Second Life”. On a projected screen, the customers watch their jeans be made virtually on the factory assembly line. The virtual textile machines include a jaquard weaving loom, laser cutter, dye vat and industrial sewing machines. When production is complete, the virtual jeans are output back into the real world via a large format printer (Second Life to Real Life portal). Leveraging a “global” workforce, the worker avatars operating the machines are real people at computers located around the world hired through the Second Life “classifieds”. As a virtual enterprise, profits made from jean sales go towards workers’ salaries and factory overhead.

Jeff Crouse’s work playfully comments on the role of technology in our lives. His work takes many forms, including software, web applications, installations, games, and video. His work has been exhibited at the 2008 Whitney Biennial, 2008 Futuresonic Festival in Manchester, DC FilmFest, Come Out and Play Festival in Amsterdam, the Obie Awards and Eyebeam Art & Technology Center in New York. He has received grants from Rhizome and Turbulence. Jeff is currently a Senior Fellow at Eyebeam and teaches at Parsons the New School for Design and Bennington College in Vermont.

Stephanie Rothenberg creates provocative interactions that question the boundaries and social constructs of manufactured desires. Through participatory performance, installation and networked media, her work investigates the mediation of the physical, analog body through the digital interfaces of commodity culture. Stephanie’s exhibitions and lectures include the Whitney Museum of Art web portal, Zer01 Festival, Banff New Media Institute, Amsterdam International Film Festival, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, ConFlux Festival, Interaccess Media Arts Center and Trampoline Radiator Festival New Technology Art. She is Associate Professor of Visual Studies at University at Buffalo.

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