McWeb Corporation (2011)

The McWeb Corporation is an artistic interpretation of the way in which governments and corporations sell and promote new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) with utopian rhetoric, when arguably they're used to solidify and extend existing social practices, i.e. reinforcing capital’s sovereignty over labour. This practice relates back to Marx’s lament that all new technologies since 1850 were created to provide “capital with weapons against a working-class revolt.”

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An artistic representation of the way in which governments and corporations sell and promote new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) with utopian rhetoric, when arguably they're used to solidify and extend existing social practices, i.e. reinforcing capital’s sovereignty over labour. This practice relates back to Marx’s lament that all new technologies since 1850 were created to provide “capital with weapons against a working-class revolt.”

The McWeb Corporation consists of 6 "machines", each one relating to a different method of control and mobilization realised or aided by the Internet. The machines are autonomous and the viewer’s relationship to them is passive; he or she has no control over their outcome and their discourse doesn't change in response to the viewer’s actions.

VENEER: The corporate gloss seen by the "everyman". Modelled as a stereotypical corporate site, the Veneer Machine provides the context for the artwork.

RECREATION: Control and surveillance techniques originally implemented into the Fordist factory-prison, such as CCTV and worker isolation, have now overflowed onto our recreation time, blurring the boundaries between work time and leisure time, public space and private space. Originally conceived as a military tool, the Internet is the logical progression for monitoring in the government and corporations quest to control and mobilize labour. The Recreation Machine alludes to Bentham's Panopticon and was inspired by the FBI's Carnivore technology.

PROPAGANDA: A living organism - the defensive mechanism of the corporation that weaves fables and half-truths accordingly. Discipline, Deceive, Distract and Monopolize: it is responsible for rewriting history, undermining existing values, deceiving the public and engineering public consent.

EMPLOYMENT: Factory machines play two roles. The first and most obvious one is to increase production. The second is to discipline the worker, a paradigm captured perfectly in Chaplin's Modern Times. Today, with computers being ubiquitous in the workplace and due to the intangible nature of networked labour, the majority of net-based firms do not have worker unions, leaving people more isolated and powerless than ever before, slaves to their cold, metal masters.

EDUCATION: The use of computers and Internet in schools, bringing about the advent of edutainment, will no doubt affect pedagogy and the definition of knowledge. For instance, corporations that sponsor or brand education often gain enough power to manipulate established learning processes. This is done to create "workers" with skills suitable for modern day work and consuming. Yet, in order to achieve this, there has to be a gradual change in what constitutes knowledge and the definition of who is a knowledgeable person. This has already been realized in the USA, where companies such as Pepsi and Coca Cola no longer wish to sponsor education, but to become education.

INVESTMENT: Cyberspace is a blind act of nature which grows through collective actions. This machine depicts a designed cyberspace and a confrontation between nature and technology. It depicts a change in public perception of cyberspace itself, from Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson's universal knowledge bank, to the virtual megamall, the McWEB.

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Artist Statement

The McWeb Corporation is an artistic interpretation of the way in which governments and corporations sell and promote new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) with utopian rhetoric, when arguably they're used to solidify and extend existing social practices, i.e. reinforcing capital’s sovereignty over labour. This practice relates back to Marx’s lament that all new technologies since 1850 were created to provide “capital with weapons against a working-class revolt.”

The McWeb Corporation consists of six "machines", each one relating to a different method of control and mobilization realised or aided by the Internet. The machines are autonomous and the viewer’s relationship to them is passive; he or she has no control over their outcome and their discourse doesn't change in response to the viewer’s actions.

The project and supporting research and documentation was created as a final project for a Master of Arts degree in Digital Practices.

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