Brown Bagging, 2012
In “Brown Bagging,” we join the Disorientals in Wendy’s Brown Bag factory, where the mismatch of material and immaterial labor, industrial and post-industrial production, work and game, self and commodity plays out on the factory floor.
In Participation May Vary, a Kinect video game created in collaboration with Silvia Ruzanka, participants play along with Wendy at work, but gamification contaminates the factory. Taylorism meets Mario when repetitive gaming maneuvers meld with the repetitive tasks of factory food production. Between working shifts as Wendy, players learn Tai Chi and advance toward Nirvana. Three videos show the Disorientals gleaning ketchup bottles, pushing a giant brown bag, and practicing Tai Chi. Brown Bagging is a disorienting mash-up in which participating as a “productive” member of contemporary global culture erodes the line between producing commodities and producing self.
This project is a chapter in The Food Groups, a five-part series focusing on race and labor in American food production and promotion. The Disorientals encounter five historical food industry trade characters of different races. In “Chapter 1: Ready Mix” we meet Aunt Jemima; in “Chapter 2: Brown Bagging” we meet Wendy; in “Chapter 3: Maiden Voyage” we meet the Land O’Lakes Indian Maiden, in “Chapter 4: A New Face” we meet Sun-Maid; and in Chapter 5 (forthcoming) we will meet Chiquita Banana. These iconic identities are affective laborers whose job is giving a friendly face to factory food. In solidarity, the Disorientals work to erase distinctions between the depersonalized production and personalized promotion of industrial food.
Kinect Video Game: “Participation May Vary”
Videos: “Biggie,” “Everyday Value,” and “Deluxe Double”
Gallery Installation (Click thumbnails to enlarge)
Thanks: Silvia Ruzanka, Shiloh Ashley.
Photos: Kil Kim.
Exhibited: ArtSpace West, Arizona State University, January 18- February 16, 2012.