Playbour: Work, Pleasure, Survival

What it means to be a worker is expanding. Widening strategies of surveillance and new sites of spectatorship online have forced another evolution in what can be called ‘leisure spaces’. From the self-made celebrity of the Instafamous to the live-streaming of online gamers, many of us shop, share and produce online, 24/7. In certain sectors, the seeming convergence of play and labour means work is sold as an extension of our personalities.

Today, workers are asked to expand their own skills and build self-made networks to develop new avenues of work, pleasure and survival. As they do, emerging industries combine the techniques and tools of game theory, psychology and data science to bring marketing, economics and interaction design to bear on the most personal of our technologies – our smartphones and our social media networks. Profiling personalities through social media use, using metrics to quantify behaviour and conditioning actions to provide rewards, have become new norms online. As a result, much of public life can be seen as part of a process of ‘capturing play in pursuit of work’. To gain a deeper understanding of this situation, Dani Admiss and Cecilia Wee devised the workshop and exhibition Playbour.

The 3-day workshop comprised artists, designers, activists, sociologists and researchers.The results of this collective labour can be seen in the exhibition.

Public Toilet by Arjun Harrison-Mann & Benjamin Redgrove, asks visitors whether the Furtherfield building should be a gallery or a toilet… and also who has the right to make this type of decision.

Treebour by Marija Bozinovska Jones (with special thanks to Robert Gallagher) is a sound work in which three anthropomorphised ‘trees’ personify the different kinds of work trees are required to do in contemporary society.

Feminist Economics Yoga (FEY) by Cassie Thornton, The Feminist Economics Department (FED), invites us to think about how our screen addictions connect us to the predatory workings of the economy at large.

Hostile Environment Facility Training (HEFT) by Michael Straeubig enables visitors to create their own ‘hostile environment’, a design approach used by governments in a variety of settings – schools, banks, universities, hospitals, places of work – to discourage migrants from settling here.

14 July - 19 August 2018
Furtherfield Gallery, London

Dani Admiss


Arjun Harrison-Mann
Benjamin Redgrove
Marija Bozinovska Jones
Cassie Thornton
Michael Straeubig

Project coordinator: