[ISEA2008] Stephanie Rothenberg – School of Perpetual Training


Under the theme “Ludic Interfaces” I am submitting an artist presentation entitled “School of Perpetual Training”. The presentation focuses on a multifaceted project of the same title that uses game-based models to examine the production of play and the politics of labor through the culture of digital gaming. Using participatory, interactive formats that include a series of instructional training tools employing motion tracking, a networked-base project in Second Life, workshops and a blog, the project investigates several critical areas: shifting definitions of “play” and delineations between leisure and labor; physical labor for virtual gain; emerging virtual economies and their relationship to inequitable wealth distribution; and the effects of the digital game and electronic industry’s global hierarchy of production on labor rights and environmental justice.

In the presentation I will provide an overview of three of the project’s components – “Edu-Game Series”, “Invisible Threads” and “Usernomics 1.0”, created through an artist residency at Eyebeam in NYC. The first part of the “Edu-Game” series is an interactive instructional training program that prepares players for a career in digital game manufacturing and distribution exposing the inequitable relationship between the industry’s profit margin and actual labor conditions. The training program uses motion tracking requiring full range of body motion to play. “Invisible Threads”, a collaboration with Eyebeam Production Fellow Jeff Crouse, is a designer jeans sweatshop in Second Life (SL). Real world customers order jeans online that are manufactured in SL. The finished product is output via a large format printer onto wearable Tyvek material. Profits from jean sales are used to pay the SL workers and to cover overhead costs. “Usernomics 1.0” is a workshop examining electronic waste and creative reuse. Participants learn how to hack old keyboards to create unique, one-of-a-kind game controllers from discarded goods.