12 February 2014

Mike Stubbs

Why are FACT showing Time & Motion now?
Never before as a society has there seen so much ambiguity between working and doing 'leisure' or resting - do you know anyone who is happy with their work life balance?  It seemed to be essential to ask some fundamental questions through the eyes of artists about how we are coming to terms with working life within an increasingly digital culture

What is the curatorial vision for the exhibition?
To create something engaging, visceral and involved in the way the audience interacts and thinks about the questions.  We have experimented with bringing together archive material with new commissions and reference materials in a way not often seen at FACT.  There are games which draw out the very question itself: when you view this exhibition are you at work or at leisure?

What first interested you in the topic of work and working life?
As someone with roots extending to Vickers shipyard in Barrow and Ogdens Tobacco factory, Bootle, working has always been significant in my life. I’ve worked hard and in many jobs from forklift truck driver on Cardiff Docks to Tinsel winder in a factory - both casual jobs, both involved 'clocking on' machine.  

In Melbourne, in 2002, I was taken to see the monument to the eight hour day, built in 1956 with the motto eight hours work, eight hours leisure, eight hours rest. I realised how this seemed to be of a different age, when studios in Brisbane were doing jobs for Hollywood to enable overnight turnarounds - from one industrial revolution to another.  

Hseih Teching who featured in our gallery in 2010 is also an inspiration, his One Year Performances challenging us all to value time spent, by creating confounding one year long performances. 

How do you picture working life in ten years?
Working on a beach with a laptop sipping a Pina Colada – no, sorry that was the nineties version - more like: more remote working, faster flows of skills, markets and economies, more cybernetics and nanotechnology, less traditional work, different industrial related illnesses: screens, posture, eye failure... 

What technological tool makes your working life easier?
The Internet and mobile devices – I’ve already done an eight hour day including writing this  - whilst attending a conference in Brazil. My working hours are pretty constant - but that’s because I am very privileged in loving my work and seeing little difference in the aspects of my life  - except for holdiays which are screen/phone/computer free. 

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative effect on working life?
Overall positive - like all aspects of life there is good and bad usage and application - but ultimately we fought and developed democratized media platforms so that more people from diverse places could have a voice and contribute to debates. 

What do you think is the most important message to take away from the exhibition? 
To reflect on how we value our time and not become robots. 

Time & Motion: Redefining Working Life is showing until 9 March. Check out the project page for more information on the exhibition and artists.