Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project


At the center of this research project lies a practice-based, artistic exploration of the impact of digitalization on the lived reality of both physical and cognitive labor.

2021 - 2025
Henrik Nieratschker

HfK Bremen

It takes the personal experience of working as a package handler for a major international shipping company as a point of departure.

The shipping warehouse can be seen as a stage on which a common condition of our technologized society becomes visible in the ways that it shows acts of raw consumption and digitally enhanced physical labor. It serves as a heterotopia in which the complex interplay of the workers, their powered equipment, and an ever-present, corporate techno-bureaucracy create the backdrop for scenes of (inter)personal, post-digital, micro and macro-scaled economic and social crisis.

Rapid technological advancements, from digital communication to innovations in transportation and manufacturing, have embedded life on earth within a vast, interdependent network of human and non-human relations. The increasing complexity of this network is highly difficult to comprehend and navigate, and without the suitable tools to do so, individuals, communities, and societies will continue to find themselves confronted with severely challenging social, political, and environmental conditions.

Focussed on the development and adaptation of digital technologies in contexts of work, the research is particularly concerned with the disciplines of artistic research and (digital) user experience design, working towards a practice that productively entangles alternative concepts of knowledge production and transdisciplinary strategies for technological application.

By proposing to merge existing methodologies from the fields of art, design, and technology, the project takes the case study of the shipping warehouse to develop approaches that can draw discursive connections from a wide spectrum of academic and non-academic disciplines in precise and poetic ways, eventually providing artists and designers with new devices for both understanding and action.

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