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Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshops [3x]
nettime's sweaty digestion on Wed, 4 Aug 2004 18:41:55 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshops [3x]



Table of Contents:

   Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshop                                              
     Andrew Ross <andrew.ross {AT} nyu.edu>                                               

   Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshops                                             
     Felix Stalder <felix {AT} openflows.org>                                             

   Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshops                                             
     John <3v1l.hax0r {AT} gmail.com>                                                     



------------------------------

Date: Tue, 03 Aug 2004 15:22:28 -0400
From: Andrew Ross <andrew.ross {AT} nyu.edu>
Subject: Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshop

Felix,

Fair enough, I accept the analysis, though would add the following. Not everything that comes out of China is "outsourced." Most Chinese service firms stand on their own two feet (as Mao used to say). They may not have finessed their marketing pitch, hence the awkward language of this spam ( as I recall it). On the other hand, the awkward language may well have been ventriloquized by some canny Western scamster who wants prospective customers to think they can take advantage of an underwitting Asian shop. As with so much Internet flotsam, we will never know, but our interpretations do say a lot about our assumptions.

AR/      
      

 > Andrew, Rana,
> 
> I know nothing about this particular outfit other than its email 
> advertisement, so calling it a 'sweatshop' was more an act of 
> parody a la 
> 'spam kr!it!k' rather one of analysis. The subject line 'business' 
> seemed 
> rather bland. Yet, it was also not random, as the message struck 
> me for 
> several reasons. 
> 
> First, paintings are treated like any other commodity whose costs 
> can be 
> lowered by outsourcing production into a low-wage country. So also 
> for art, 
> Southern China becomes the 'low cost manufacturing base.' Second, 
> like many 
> other low-end businesses, this proposition is spewed about 
> randomly as spam. 
> In fact, nettime got it several time (that's why I noticed it). 
> Third, it 
> contains some rather untrustworthy claims such as the painting 
> being done by 
> 'famous artists', though they remain unspecified.
> 
> Most importantly, though, it introduces an extreme separation -- 
> extreme in 
> the context of Western art, more common in the textile industry -- 
> between 
> ordering and producing. While made-to-order art has never entirely 
> gone out 
> of fashion with the artist becoming an autonomous subject (so the 
> story line) 
> it has been transformed into an intimate process ( as in having 
> your portrait 
> painted). As such, it's based on a supposedly deep relationship 
> between the 
> person doing the ordering and the one doing the execution. 
> 
> Now, this email indicates that two things are happening. The made-
> to-order 
> relationship is reappearing with all the loss of status that 
> entails for the 
> artists (a 'famous artist' yet anonymous, like the great medieval 
> artists/artisans). Yet, at the same time, this relationship has 
> been broken 
> under the cost-imperative. This allows to enjoy the product which, 
> like a 
> brand, has a status value much higher than its use value, without 
> any regard 
> to the context of its production. While this is not a sufficient 
> cause to 
> assume sweatshop production conditions, it's a necessary step to 
> establish 
> them for the production of high-value objects.
> 
> 
> Felix
> 
> On Sunday 01 August 2004 18:03, Andrew Ross wrote:
> 
> > Re: the subject line. Just a matter of interest, why do you 
> assume this is
> > a sweatshop operation? Simply because it is in China?  Or is it 
> impossible> to imagine the condition of Chinese artisans as 
> comparing favorably with
> > their Western counterparts?
> <...>
> 
> -- 
> ----+-------+---------+---
> http://felix.openflows.org
> 
> #  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
> #  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
> #  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
> #  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the 
> msg body
> #  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net
> 


------------------------------

Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2004 16:15:36 +0200
From: Felix Stalder <felix {AT} openflows.org>
Subject: Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshops

Andrew,

as far as I know, 'outsourcing' doesn't imply some kind of dependent 
relationship. In fact, the whole thing about outsourcing is that services 
which were previously provided in-house are now provided by an external 
company. 

This does not fit precisely to the service producing oil paintings, but the 
general logic still applies: something that used to be provided close to the 
consumer of the service is now produced somewhere else, distance, managed in 
real time by IT. The imperative is cost reduction by reducing labour costs at 
the expense of increased transportation costs.

I agree, it's not impossible that his a fair business posing as a sweatshop to 
take advantage of stereotypes of people like me, though I wouldn't bet on it.

But, of course, interpreting such short, decontextualized message requires a 
fair measure of projection :)

Felix


On Tuesday 03 August 2004 21:22, Andrew Ross wrote:
> Felix,
>
> Fair enough, I accept the analysis, though would add the following. Not
> everything that comes out of China is "outsourced." Most Chinese service
> firms stand on their own two feet (as Mao used to say). They may not have
> finessed their marketing pitch, hence the awkward language of this spam (
> as I recall it). On the other hand, the awkward language may well have been
> ventriloquized by some canny Western scamster who wants prospective
> customers to think they can take advantage of an underwitting Asian shop.
> As with so much Internet flotsam, we will never know, but our
> interpretations do say a lot about our assumptions.
>
> AR/
>
>  > Andrew, Rana,
> >
> > I know nothing about this particular outfit other than its email
> > advertisement, so calling it a 'sweatshop' was more an act of
> > parody a la
> > 'spam kr!it!k' rather one of analysis. The subject line 'business'
> > seemed
> > rather bland. Yet, it was also not random, as the message struck
> > me for
> > several reasons.
> >
> > First, paintings are treated like any other commodity whose costs
> > can be
> > lowered by outsourcing production into a low-wage country. So also
> > for art,
> > Southern China becomes the 'low cost manufacturing base.' Second,
> > like many
> > other low-end businesses, this proposition is spewed about
> > randomly as spam.
> > In fact, nettime got it several time (that's why I noticed it).
> > Third, it
> > contains some rather untrustworthy claims such as the painting
> > being done by
> > 'famous artists', though they remain unspecified.
> >
> > Most importantly, though, it introduces an extreme separation --
> > extreme in
> > the context of Western art, more common in the textile industry --
> > between
> > ordering and producing. While made-to-order art has never entirely
> > gone out
> > of fashion with the artist becoming an autonomous subject (so the
> > story line)
> > it has been transformed into an intimate process ( as in having
> > your portrait
> > painted). As such, it's based on a supposedly deep relationship
> > between the
> > person doing the ordering and the one doing the execution.
> >
> > Now, this email indicates that two things are happening. The made-
> > to-order
> > relationship is reappearing with all the loss of status that
> > entails for the
> > artists (a 'famous artist' yet anonymous, like the great medieval
> > artists/artisans). Yet, at the same time, this relationship has
> > been broken
> > under the cost-imperative. This allows to enjoy the product which,
> > like a
> > brand, has a status value much higher than its use value, without
> > any regard
> > to the context of its production. While this is not a sufficient
> > cause to
> > assume sweatshop production conditions, it's a necessary step to
> > establish
> > them for the production of high-value objects.
> >
> >
> > Felix
> >
> > On Sunday 01 August 2004 18:03, Andrew Ross wrote:
> > > Re: the subject line. Just a matter of interest, why do you
> >
> > assume this is
> >
> > > a sweatshop operation? Simply because it is in China?  Or is it
> >
> > impossible> to imagine the condition of Chinese artisans as
> > comparing favorably with
> >
> > > their Western counterparts?
> >
> > <...>
> >
> > --
> > ----+-------+---------+---
> > http://felix.openflows.org
> >
> > #  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
> > #  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
> > #  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
> > #  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the
> > msg body
> > #  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net

- -- 
- ----+-------+---------+---
http://felix.openflows.org


------------------------------

Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2004 17:11:51 -0700
From: John <3v1l.hax0r {AT} gmail.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshops

"A sweatshop is a factory, usually in a developing or Third World
country and especially in Asia, where people work for a very small
wage, producing products such as clothes, toys, shoes, and other
consumer goods."

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweatshops

I was raised by a bigot, and strive not to be one myself.  But when I
think of sweatshop I never imaged a specific (or non-Western for that
matter) nationality working in one.  I always thought it meant low
cost, low quality, and low pay for labour.


------------------------------

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