The Production Language Factory is an ongoing project of “reinvention” founded by artist Jake Beckman, its “Director of General Affairs.” Grounded in observations of human-machine and robot-machine interactions and interviews with current and former factory workers, Beckman creates visual objects, “machines” that address current and future relationships among workers, automation, efficiency, productivity, work, value, and meaning.
In his “Factory Mission Statement,” Beckman states that: “The PLF was founded on the belief that the human body still has a role to play in the technologically-oriented production environment of the future. Its products strive to usher in a new chapter in machine/body language, as well as foster meaningful conversations related to the creation of value, the transformation of substance, and the role of the human body in the working world.”
In Machines for Making Meaning: Prototypes and Possibilities, Beckman offers us a glimpse into the historical trajectory of his fictional factory, including a selection of company documents and assorted research and design paraphernalia for prototypes under development with names like Race Machine, Attention Decreasing Machine, Identity Performance Machine, and Balance of Power Machine. The exhibition spans disciplines as diverse as material science, engineering, robotics, sociology, psychology, economics, and philosophy in order to explore the ways new technologies are altering societies, the individual’s relationships to labor and substance, and the ways knowledge is being transferred, displaced, and revalued.
As automation moves from the factory floor to white collar professions and even the arts, Machines for Making Meaning is a striking reminder that we are all embodied workers, sharing in global transformations of labor and our relationships to it.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.