SYMPOSIUM | Automate all the Things!
Wednesday, 15 January 2020 | 5 p.m.

Automate all the Things!


Wednesday, 15 January 2020, at 5 p.m., auditorium Moderna galerija, MG+


Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, presents the 8th edition of conference series Tactics & Practice: Automate all the Things! In the framework of Hyperemployment, the symposium Automate all the Things! wants to explore a contradiction implicit in the increasing automation of work: is this process, which should apparently open up a new age of free time, no labour and universal basic income, instead turning humans into software agents, invisible slaves of the machines? Welcomed as a curse by the Luddites at the very beginning of the industrial age, throughout the 20th century, automation did not destroy human labour, but profoundly changed its organisation on a global scale. In the late-20th century, technological innovations brought automation to a brand new level, accelerating the shift toward a post-industrial economic model. Today, with many jobs previously run by humans becoming fully automated, the dream – or nightmare – of a post-work society seems closer than ever; and yet, at a closer look, automation in its current form isn’t destroying human labour. Rather, it is making it invisible.


Participants: Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Michael Mandiberg, Domenico Quaranta, Sašo Sedlaček, Sebastian Schmieg




Elisa Giardina Papa: Notes on Post-Work: Free Time and the Human Infrastructures that Sustain Automation and Artificial Intelligence, keynote

Most of the academic and political discourse on post-work has focused on the relationship between automation and free time. That is, it has posited that automation has the emancipatory potential to free us all from work: to reduce necessary working hours or at least to devote ourselves to more intellectually rewarding jobs (immaterial labour). What is not fully convincing about this approach is that it is grounded in a hierarchical separation between machines and humans. What is missing is the acknowledgment of the human infrastructure that sustains automation and artificial intelligence. The invisible, precarious, alienated, low-paid and offshored workforce that automation requires in order to function properly. These workers and their tasks are the focus of this talk.


Sebastian Schmieg: I Will Say Whatever You Want In Front Of A Pizza, lecture performance

I Will Say Whatever You Want In Front Of A Pizza is a speculative Prezi (a presentation software) that explores digital labour, the amalgamation of humans and software, and the possibility of interventions inside algorithmic systems. Narrated from the perspective of a cloud worker, the Prezi video presents digital workers as software extensions. The ubiquitous network and the computerisation of everything have not only blurred the lines between bots and people – supposedly autonomous programs are sometimes people who have to act as if they were software; this development has also made it very easy for everyone to hire, programme and retire humans as part of any workflow: bodies and minds that can be plugged in, rewired and discarded as one sees fit.


Silvio Lorusso, Entreprecariat, book presentation

Entreprecariat (Krisis Publishing, 2018; Onomatopee, 2019) explores and maps out the current entrepreneurial ideology from a precarious perspective. The Entreprecariat indicates a reality where change is natural and healthy, whatever it may bring. A reality populated by motivational posters, productivity tools, mobile offices and self-help techniques. A reality in which a mix of entrepreneurial ideology and widespread precarity is what regulates professional social media, online marketplaces for self-employment and crowdfunding platforms for personal needs. The result? A life in permanent beta, with sometimes tragic implications.


Sanela Jahić, Michael Mandiberg, Sašo Sedlaček, Art Making in the Age of Automation, round table discussion, moderator: Domenico Quaranta

How does the increasing automation of labour affect artistic practice, on all the levels of content, process and form? How is it affecting the present society and our vision of the future? What can art do to deal with the increasing fragmentation of human labour and its disappearance from visibility, and give it back its presence and dignity? Taking off from their own work and from the statements of other participants in the symposium, the artists involved in the round table will attempt to offer an answer to these and other questions.



Part of Hyperemployment - Post-work, Online Labour and Automation. A year-long programme co-curated by Domenico Quaranta & Janez Janša. Dates and additional information regarding each event of the Hyperemployment programme can be found at