Digital Labor

Karin Hansson


Karin Hansson (, Ph.Lic., artist, curator and PhD student at The Royal Institute of Arts in Stockholm and at the Department of Computer & System Science, Stockholm University. Her research focus is artistic methodologies and online participatory processes. In her thesis work she has looked at how identity and community is materialized and performed, on web pages, on blogs and in social forums. With this in mind she has developed a prototype for a collaborative system that combines analysis of structure and representation with a deliberative tool support. The purpose is to address inequality and digital differentiation and support discursive processes. This research has been conducted in the context of two urban planning projects and in collaboration with the Department of Urban Planning and the Environment, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.

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The Affect Machine
In the artwork The Affect Machine I investigate new forms of contracts and widened definitions of employment that better could address today’s work realities. By merging the functionality of a social network online, with the functionality of online trading, an institution could be created that better mirrors the practices of the networked economy.

The starting point for the project is practices of funding artists (rather than artworks) at crowdfunding sites like SonicAngel and ArtistShare. The micro-financing of artists, rather than works of art, offers new possibilities for people other than the economic and cultural elite to become patrons of the arts. One might term it a more democratic base for the artistic priesthood and its varied discursive practices. But it is not just the economy of art that focuses on special people. Singularity is something that many professions emphasize; not just artists but all sorts of creative activities, from music to massage, emphasize the unique person behind the product. Promoting a personal brand in the form of taste, education and social relations is also central to every career in an insecure and flexible labor market, not just in the creative sector. Accordingly, crowdfunding of humanity (being), rather than of production of commodities (doing), is a possible scenario for a future social system.

We cannot, of course, ignore all those without the possibility of operating on digital networks, and those producing the material base that makes the so called creative sector possible, but by joining the functions in a capitalist institution with the functions in a digital social network, we can sketch a form of how the private and public sectors can approach each other.