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2016, Nov 24: TALK by Jaime Lee Kirtz on "Interrogating the Standard"
November 25: Talk by Jaime Lee Kirtz (University of Colorado at Boulder)
"Interrogating the Standard"
Input/Output Symposium (Concordia University, Canada)
Speaker's Twitter: @jaimekirtz
- talk focuses on the politics of the production process of scanners
Kirtz discussing Foxconn Technology Group's business model for maximum efficiency.
Issue of Materiality of Silicon
- silicon treatment process that produces silicon wafer with purity of 99% creates specific byproducts
- CO2, hydrochloric gas; manufacturing process is harmful to environment and workers
- workers, especially in China, can become sick and scarred
- four major companies for silicon production, two of which are in China
- GLC-Poly, Wacker, Hemlock, OCI
- companies also connected to Foxconn
- about 78 (half in China) silicon wafer producers in the world
Foxconn Tech Factory in China
- Foxconn has exclusive deals all over the world, with initiative to make locations from raw materials to finished item in one factory
- via agreements with other companies to cut the middle steps
- "in order to make production as efficient as possible"
- model of starting, finishing, exporting products
- interesting in terms of materiality: earlier vs. later scanner products; many "Assembled in the US"
- changed by this monopolizing force
- enhances competitiveness of company's products
- working with aluminum, dye-casting, fastener products
- if these companies are smaller than Foxconn, they will buy it --> monopoly
- also a close relationship with Chinese government
Workers at Foxconn (issues with human rights and not abiding by WTO standards)
- 1975 South Korean manufacturing: 8% of US wages
- 2005 - 30% of US wages
- but China: only increased 3% of US wages
- raw material processing plant has 100k+ workers, makes all their silicon
- working with Chinese gov to appear to adhere to World Trade Organization (WTO) standards, but this is done so they can find ways around the rules
- has had adverse affect on Chinese workers
- mass migration of workers into cities bc of agricultural crisis, to work in factories
- under-radar case studies to see work conditions
- 15 sets of studies in 3 factories; none followed WTO standards: low wages, inhumane conditions
- working their way around it: call their jobs "Student Internships"
- many of their workers (85%) are migrant workers, 60% between ages of 16-30
- migrant workers depend on company for housing and food: "DORM LABOUR"
- to address rule that you can't stay in the city unless you have residence
- 12-14 hour workdays
- can't complain without risk of being treated badly by boss
- huge population of women (especially young women) workers, up to 70% of workers in electronics industry
- called "Daegong Mei" (sp?) in post-socialist China
- gender hierarchy: while workforce in China is 65% male; class and gender division in labour
Research Question for Kirtz
- research question: how to present this info and how to make an impact?
- Google Maps with layers: check for silicon plants, assembly factories, different plants
- part of project called The Scanner Archive
- thinking of different ways to use technology to be disruptive
- calls this way of research "fun"...but maybe interactive would be a more useful mode of thinking?
- thinking in terms of STANDARDS: gender, trade agreements, production, etc.
- also thinks of sizes and components of tech, especially in domestic spaces (domestic labour, domestic use)
- politics of design in affordance as it relates to gender
- so she started to split open cords and analyze the material
- PVC in the 1980s and 1990s; use of PVC (and issuing patents for it) since the late 1800s
##shapes important "narratives of production and labour"
how are patents used to assert dominance and claims as a main power centre to build and industry
thinking of maps and cords --> thinking of interconnectivity and spaces
- attention turned to the infrastructure that supports this in the electrical systems
ladies' home journals (Good Housekeeping, etc.) with articles written by women about pros and cons of electricity in the home, types of outlets
- shift in domestic tasks and issues of gendered labour: cleaning, ironing, washing, cooking--early applications of electricity*********
Edison didn't anticipate greater need for lightbulb, so many designs for outlets and patents issued
1915: decided to standardize it via International Electrical Ass'n/Org
- with only seven core patents
- see institutional assemblages forming and exclusion of certain types of voices and industries
- establishing certain types of practices and standards
before 1915 in ladies' journals: electricity as a novelty (show your friends how rich you are with your wonderful ironing)
after: you need to have it, bc your life needs to be more efficient, need to save money for husband, servants
- shift after things come standardized
change in rhetoric and domestic labours; leads to changes in thinking of standards in US and other countries
- imperialism and governmental establishment of norms
- very material way of establishing difference (and dominance)************
- Kirtz would really like to think about: what are the ways in which materially we are being controlled, making gendered spaces, etc.
- turning thoughts into something constructive: Archaeology Lab
- making physical space, online exhibit, repository for standards documents, student classes and projects, examining overlaps in patents, scanning for fingerprints
- pedagogy: asks undergrad students to engage with this spatially, in experience, etc.
- looked at Nintendo 64 packaging
- overlaps in patents in comparison with objects themselves
- scanning for fingerprints: looking for residue left over in terms of materiality (LF: Kirschenbaum's forensic materiality)