Isabel Mager (DE)
Smart high-tech devices are made by human hand. How often do we realise — as we sit swiping — that somewhere, someone is testing the image quality of such devices by taking thousands of selfies each day? 5000times investigates the extensive, repetitive and even absurd human work that is essential to the creation of smart devices.
Humans are the most adaptable machines. The idea of a totally automated production process remains fictive; the development, purchase and maintenance of machinery are far more expensive and complex than human work.
The total cost for worker’s wages in building one iPhone 6 Plus is $11, or 2% of the final retail price, according to Business Insider. One iPad will go through the hands of 325 people, according to ABC News, one of the few media companies allowed inside Apple’s Foxconn-run manufacturing plant.
Why are we so close to these devices yet so unfamiliar with their making?
A physical deconstruction of one such high-tech device reveals evidence of how the human hand participates in production and manufacture. The result, 5000times, compiles and re-frames sequences of these manual tasks into clear and critical visualisations. In order to spark dialogue with designers and end users about hidden production processes, the repetitive manual tasks are re-enacted and performed. The performance is activated by a designer who operates from privileged western contexts. This re-enactment aims to challenge levels of accountability required by designers and end users alike.
Isabel Mager is an investigative and critical designer based in the Netherlands. Her recent work interrogates design at an intersection between culture and structures of power. She works as an active mediator between systems that organise life (culture, politics, economics, technologies, geographies, norms, historical records) and the participants of that life. These systems enable and fuel the designed object which then directs and informs human subjectivity. Isabel empirically analyses the complexities, social systems and mechanisms of design through objects, installations, articles and performances within design and academic contexts.
In 2016, upon completion of the BA programme at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Isabel was resident at Uproot Rotterdam alongside Studio Makkink & Bey. She has collaboratively directed workshops on design and privilege as part of the Social Design Masters programme at Design Academy Eindhoven, and presented work at Decolonising Design’s symposium on Intersectional Perspectives on Design, Politics and Power, in Malmö, Sweden.isabelmager.info