Robots being programmed to take on human characteristics and functions. This has been a dream and fear which has haunted the human imagination with the development of science and computer functioning. Big screen productions such as I, Robot (2004) as well as small screen works such as Humans (2015) have played on the conflicted emotions around attempts to re-create ourselves in metal and algorithms. This desire to see a programmed image of ourselves has not only been driven by the longing of scientists to see how far they can stretch their practice. Capitalist motivations continue to call for more efficient and ways to accumulate wealth. Artist Lawrence Lek takes on questions around artificial intelligence through his video game installations in which he imagines a near-future where robots take over the necessity for human labour, including the creative labour that artists put into their work.
“There’s this romanticised notion that we associate with creativity, but from my point of view, what is creativity apart from following the rules and then trying to break them? Breaking rules is a rule in itself,” Lek mentioned in an interview with Dazed.
For his installation Play Station at the White Chapel Building in London, Lek took viewers to the year 2037 and imagined what it would be like to work for a technology start-up called Farsight. Viewers were introduced to a new work environment where work is actually leisure time. Participants in Lek’s exhibition were given VR headsets and taken through video tutorials before being given “assignments” to receive bonuses including e-holidays and entertainment credits. Work becomes a game.
His speculative image of a future in Play Station provides a probing reflection on the direction we are taking ourselves in the name of progress and the possible future for recruitment in the corporate world. Lek also reflects on the repercussions of human labour no longer being necessary as well as what kind of political cultures may emerge from this.
Watch the Farsight recruitment video below:
Animation by Clifford Sage
Architecture by Johnny Lui
Music by Seth Scott
Voiceover by Alp Mehmet
Translated by Joni Zhu
A co-commission by Art Night and Outset Young Patrons Circle. Supported by Derwent London. Curated by Fatos Ustek.