Reflecting Transformation

Stephanie Rothenberg uses performance, video, and net-based media to create interactive situations that question relationships between individuals and socially constructed identities, lifestyles and public spaces. Referencing corporate models and their infrastructures, her work merges popular forms of advertising and market research with participatory experiences involving role-playing and fantasy.

“10 Simple Steps to Your Own Virtual Sweatshop” is a humorous infomercial for aspiring virtual entrepreneurs. The video explores the shifting work environment as all forms of labor continue to be virtualized through online networks. Through the creation of a designer jeans “sweatshop” in the online, 3D world of Second Life, real life wearable jeans are manufactured on-demand to real life customers in the physical world. The simulated, virtual textile factory includes jacquard weaving looms, dye vats and quality control. Second Life “workers”, humans controlling computer avatars, are hired and trained to operate the virtual machines that produce the real world jeans sold for profit. Offering an insider’s view into what has already become the future of capitalist production – telematic manufacturing – the video comments on both the fruits of technological innovation and the potential for exploitation.