In response to the lecture on Digital Labour

I took the slavery footprint survey and my results were 25 slaves. Those words feel unsavoury in my mouth. My friends have a few more than I. I think the vegansim factored into it. It still doesn’t make me feel better for my result. It’s one too many.

Information about who actually constructs our technology is hardly spoken about. The first time I’d heard about it were the suicides of those assembling the Apple company products. Since then, a facebook page run by Anonymous has been the only media source providing concurrent information.

Reporting on slave labour in the technology industry is rare. More common are the reports in teh textile industry. John Oliver, of Last Week Tonight, spent a hefty part of his thirty  minute show on a segment on the hypocrisy of certain advocates treatment of fashion and labour.

However, brands like American Apparel have boasted that their clothing is “Made in American.” But they only recently filed for bankruptcy, raising the question of other American (or home-made) products making a profit. I would like to add that American’s pay their workers minimum wage, so I’m not sure if those sewing the garments are making a “living wage”, or only the minimum wage.

I was reading that the minimum-wage worker in Southern California working at American Apparel, for example, would make around $1,400 a month. In Bangladesh, that would be $68 a month, in China, $158 a month.


You cannot address the topic of slave labour without mentioning consumption. It occurs in every aspect of our society. We are told to consume, encouraged to. This is especially notes around the Holiday seasons. During Christmas, many of the reports are on the economic factors. Questions about whether sales will surpass the year before and the year before that. If they don’t, the segment shows a worried economist, who raises dire questions about the future of our Australian economy. Consumption is thrives off of the fearful. It is material gluttony, not only the traditional gluttony. SBS’s The Feed have investigated the food market and its aesthetic issues. It highlights how society is so concerned about the aesthetics of a thing.

Being an avid art lover and a student of it, it is not difficult to come across responses to consumption and consumerism. Like Adreas Gursky’s ’99 cent’, a photography constructed to overwhelm the viewer, to dominate their sight. Artists representing consumption and consumerism have in common the intention to overwhelm their audience. There is also the irony of Banksy’s street art. It doesn’t physically overwhelm the audience the way ’99 cent’ does, but it commands the attention of the viewer by the employment of the Christ figure in conjunction with consumerism.

99 cent
Venus of the Rags

In regards to this blog post, Michelangelo Pistoletto’s ‘Venus of the Rags’ (1967, 1974) seems most appropriate to talk about. The mountain of clothing is overwhelming the statue. Notice how the statue is not overweight, but rather is a representative of beauty standards in the Western world. She is told to consume, but to maintain a socially acceptable image. 


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