Ant Hampton’s Cue China (Elsewhere, Offshore)

Fusebox Festival blogger Robyn Ross reporting from Austin, TX.

Most of the products we use every day – especially in the realm of technology – have been made somewhere else, by people we don’t know. And often, the process of making these products is harmful to the makers.

Yeah, yeah. We’ve read the news, heard about FoxConn, know the depressing statistics and the fact that if we want to remain technologically relevant, we have to use these products anyway. But what about the individual people – real, thinking, breathing – LAUGHING, even – folks who work in these factories?

 “We have a very thin and insubstantial idea of who these people are,” says Ant Hampton, creator of “Cue China (Elsewhere, Offshore),” in a recent interview with PS122 TV in New York. “I wanted to make a piece that in some way brought them in, conjured their presence and tried to do that in a live way.”

Participants in “Cue China” sit down to a computer that, for the duration of the experience, represents their own personal computer. As they upgrade their software, they gradually become aware that someone who’s helped make their computer has found a way to get inside it, to talk with them.

To create “Cue China,” Hampton worked directly with factory workers who were sickened by n-hexane, a chemical used to clean the iPhone’s glass screen, at a factory that supplies Apple. But when you spend the 45 minutes as a participant in “Cue China,” you may get a better picture of these workers’ actual lives than you’d get from watching the news (on yet another screen). “The idea is to get beyond these stories of victim-hood,” which are mostly what you get from news stories, Hampton says. To realize that these “victims” also possess curiosity and a sense of humor. To see the face, literally, behind the screen.

Cue China is currently playing s part of Fusebox’s Art and Tech series from April 18-28 @ Various times at Prizer Gallery / Fusebox Festival Office > 2023 E. Cesar Chavez, Austin TX

It comes to NYC on May 1-5 along with Ant Hampton & Tim Etchell’s The Quiet Volume. Both are presented by PS122 as part of the PEN World Voices Festival.

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