TaskRabbits and Art
TaskRabbit provides one-night stands of day labor. Through a familiar internet formula (connecting consumer and service), the platform lets workers underbid their peers to claim rather mundane tasks for even more mundane pay. A bizarre theme of illness runs through the site's own marketing. Its promo videos give us a Taskmaster with an injured knee, requiring Rabbits to the rescue. Meanwhile, the freelancing Rabbits can't nab full-time employment, too busy getting cancer treatments, in retirement, or supporting ailing hobbies (like careers in electronic music). If rabbits are meant to imply endless reproduction, TaskRabbit reproduces both symptoms and the disease. A neoliberal eternal spring is poisoned from the start.
Last Friday, LA-based artist and Jogging-member Spencer Longo used TaskRabbit for the close of his solo exhibition All Access, on view at the new Los Angeles project space Smart Objects. Under the amorphous heading of a potluck, Longo outsourced the task of picking out and picking up food and decorations to two members of the precarious herd.
Spencer Longo, All Access (2013), Acrylic, GoPro Hero 2, XBOX Kinect, memory-enhancing herbal supplements
Longo's network-enabled and user-friendly wall works seemed a fitting stage for the event. Perhaps most appealing was a pair of collages: disassembled technology (one a GoPro camera, the other a motion sensing input device known as Kinect for Xbox 360) and energy-enhancing vitamin supplements suspended in three inches of resin. These are endearing time capsules (pun surely intended) of our attention economy and the technologies that serve it (drugs are technologies, too). More, they weave deftly between the actual and virtual: whether you're skiing a black diamond or your avatar is, swallow the damn ephedra.
The performance itself disappointed, and not because of the Rabbits' Target-brand taste—snacks and supplies fit for a teen birthday (sunglasses and mustaches included). One was never seen. The other was a 20-something embroiled in her new iPhone 5s, who could have been attending the show except for her normaloid (read: business casual) attire. Missing an important opportunity for schadenfreude or empathy, Longo chose to spare the Rabbit from having to wear the probably ill-fitting, unfortunately green tee-shirt uniform. "My meter's running out," she replied when he invited her to stay for the event, and off she went, off the clock, task completed.
Courtesy of the author, the potluck view
For another $20, Rabbits could have been paid to be lives of the party or clean up afterwards, to explain if their purchases expressed agency or laziness, to by any means explore the mundane but essential thesis that neoliberalism is sick, and laborers suffer. But as the artist went on tinkering with the Rabbit-acquired materials (chips, salsa, silly string), forming a temporary installation (stripes, checks, piles), the Rabbits themselves were made as invisible as any art supply store. Perhaps Longo let the Rabbits do their job too well. Their slogan: "discover more time to do what you love."