The Necessary Friction of the Machine
I hired four, unemployed General Motors assembly line workers to work with me in the studio. I interviewed them about their work on the assembly line, and asked them to make drawings as they spoke. At the conclusion of the interview sessions, we surveyed the drawings together, and selected two drawings from the work of each line worker. I created steel-rule dies in the shape of each drawing. With a pneumatic die press, we worked together to punch out thousands of paper likenesses of each drawing, and folded each one into a small cylinder. Across four weeks of shared work, we assembled a colossus of paper parts – at once a sculpture and a visible measure of repetitive work.
While the putative result – the tangible artwork – had sculptural and aesthetic presence, viewers of the exhibition entered a situation whereby they could watch us at work, as well as talk to the line workers and learn more about General Motors and their local chapter of the United Auto Workers Union. This project's exhibition intentionally blurred the boundaries between process and product, allowing viewership to include many elements of interaction, including looking, talking and listening.