[ISEA2009] Paper: Joan Healy – Cyborgs and the duality of perception and morality in performative interaction


“Modern consciousness has been modified, people are trained through advertising and the corporate owned mass media to learn to be controlled and dominated. ‘On-job control’ involves deskilling the working class and turning them into robots doing repetitive tasks. The dominated class work so hard they don’t have time to think about revolution. ‘Off-job control’ turns the dominated class into a passive consumer of superficial fashion and other forms of useless consumption as entertainment”.
_Noam Chomsky (Interview with Barry Pateman), Imperial Grand Strategy, 2005.

In contemporary society we consume electronic products that reduce our physical labour and make menial chores fast and easy. From machines that are used to make communication easier, to ones that can clean our houses and wash our clothes. For some, the dream of a modernist utopia has been fulfilled. Those who can afford it are given freedom from physical labour and menial chores, and more time for leisurely pursuits. However, there is a dark side to our utopia. It is not just our machines that are used as slaves, but the people who are used to produce and dispose of them. Most people, ignorant of the suffering that belies the production of consumer goods, are either unaware or choose to be unaware of how their purchases support economies that are based on sweatshop labour and environmental destruction. If such injustices and human suffering caused due to the lack of workers rights were occurring on a local European level there would be outrage and condemnation. But not for the producers of cheap consumer products who live in the developing world. Why and how is there this moral double standard? Why are there merely small fringe groups that are aware of the inequalities and speak out against them?

  • Joan Healy

Full Text (PDF) p.  596-599