Technologies of Care, Excerpt: Worker 7: Bot? Virtual Boyfriend/Girlfriend?
Elisa Giardina Papa
Video 1-channel (color, sound)
Technologies of Care documents new ways in which service and affective labor are being outsourced via internet platforms, exploring topics such as empathy, precarity, and immaterial labor. The video visualizes the invisible workforce of online caregivers. The workers interviewed in Technologies of Care include an ASMR artist, an online dating coach, a fetsh video performer and fairytale author, a social media fan-for-hire, a nail wrap designer, and a customer service operator. Based in Brazil, Greece, the Philippines, Venezuela, and the United States, they work as anonymous freelancers, connected via third-party companies to customers around the globe. Through a variety of websites and apps, they provide clients with customized goods and experiences, erotic stimulaton, companionship, and emotional support.
The stories collected in Technologies of Care include those of non-human caregivers as well. One of its seven episodes, Worker 7 - Bot? Invisible Boyfriend/Girlfriend, documents the artist’s three-month-long “affair” with an interactive chatbot. This fragment is presented as a one channel video for the show Swipe Right! at Imal - Art Center for Digital Cultures & Technology.Technologies of Care is the first installment of a trilogy of work exploring how labor and care are reframed by digital economies and artificial intelligence; the second and third pieces are Labor of Sleep (2017), and Cleaning Emotional Data (2020).