The Soul at Work is a site-specific installation that explores the condition of the worker in our never-off culture. Drawing inspiration from religious metaphors of light, the installation links the cognitive worker’s “Soul” to his physical place of work. Such connection is enabled by “team collaboration tools and services” like Slack. Each time a worker will interact on the platform, a light will flicker in the physical office as a memento of his soul being present.
(Never Not Working)
“We can reach every point in the world but, more importantly, we can be reached from any point in the world. Privacy and its possibilities are abolished. Attention is under siege everywhere. Not silence but uninterrupted noise, not the red desert, but a cognitive space overcharged with nervous incentives to act: this is the alienation of our times…”
— Franco “Bifo” Berardi The Soul at Work, MIT Press, 2009
In many religions the light is often used as a metaphor for the presence of the soul, the spirit or the divine. The Soul at Work stems from a research around the theme of cognitive labour in our never-off culture of work. By comparing the worker’s labour to his “soul”, the project aims to play with the religious concept of presence. The purpose of the installation is to display via exaggeration the connection of the worker to his workspace, the same way in which a ghost is bound to a haunted house, manifesting its presence through flickering lights.
In the case of the worker, this relation is conditioned by online “team collaboration tools and services” like Slack, that further extend the working schedule outside the office hours.
The online presence of the worker will be displayed in the physical office by the flickering of office lights, as a memento of his soul being present.
The installation utilise a simple software framework consisting of a Python script running the Slack API that is constantly looking for new messages on certain channels on a Slack Workspace. The presence of a new message triggers via OSC a secondary software, Pure Data, that is in charge of communicating to the LED strips a randomly generated sequence. The whole frameworks runs on a single Raspberry Pi.
The installation utilises a office light frame