Zoe Beloff’s interactive multi-media installation Emotions Go to Work investigates how technology is used to turn our feelings into valuable assets — what the artist calls the transformation of emotion into capital. The project, accompanied by a limited edition book and an artist-curated film series, is an exploration of the “dream life of technology” and of our imaginative and imagined relationships with machines — how we create them in our image, shape them to serve our desires, and how they, in turn, reshape us.
“Today digital devices are increasingly designed to create the illusion that that they are not simply objects but subjects, caring and sentient beings,” Beloff writes. “They actively elicit our responses so that while it appears that they are our servants, they are in fact training us, shaping us from earliest infancy. It is we who are working for them.” With thoughtfulness and humor, Beloff investigates the long history of human activities and affect being turned into data, from the orderly Alphabet of the Passions devised by the French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne in the 19th century to the “scientific management” techniques of 20th century America aimed at optimizing the labor of human “cogs” at industrial scale. Beloff connects this history to the present day, in which the Internet of Things enters our daily lives in intimate and pervasive ways, and asks her viewers to consider their relationship with these technologies.
To date, the project has been shown in four venues in Europe: FirstSite (Colchester, England) in 2019; and Museum Dr. Guislain (Ghent, Belgium), Villa Méditerranée (Marseille, France), and Bourse du travail (Valence, France), all in 2017. The presentation at the Ulrich Museum of Art marks the installation’s American debut and its most expansive presentation to date. It is also the first venue to present the accompanying film series.
Zoe Beloff is an artist and filmmaker who lives and works in New York City. Her projects often involve a range of media including films, drawings, and archival documents organized around a theme. Over the course of a thirty-year career, her interests have included psychoanalysis, mediums, and mental health institutions; new forms of community; anti-fascist art and activism; and, recently, the history of relationships between labor, technology, and our emotional lives. In all she does, her work attests to a belief that critique and protest should be vibrant, humorous, and colorful — a carnival of resistance to light the way in dark times. For more on Zoe’s work, including a full CV, see www.zoebeloff.com
The Ulrich presentation of Emotions Go to Work will be accompanied by a series of five film screenings (approximately 2 hours each) co-curated by the artist and Rebecca Cleman of Electronic Arts Intermix, New York. The films, ranging from feature length works to YouTube videos, will investigate in further depth the complex relationship between humans and their technologies that the show explores. All screenings will be accompanied by Screening Notes compiled by the series co-curators and offered to exhibition venues as part of the traveling exhibition package. The film series co-curators are available to travel in order to introduce screenings and lead Q&A’s for an additional fee.
For more information please contact:
Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University
Categories: Traveling Exhibitions