‘Emotions Go to Work’ is an interactive installation by New York based artist and filmmaker Zoe Beloff. It investigates how technology is used to turn our feelings into valuable assets.
Ever since the 19th century, people have been collecting scientific data from the human body and cataloguing emotions. Today, smart devices try to gain our trust in order to compile information. We create machines in our image, shaped to serve our desires – and in turn they reshape us.
Beloff explores where this evolution is taking society. Can these technological systems understand our feelings? Will emojis determine our emotional life? As technology takes on more and more emotional characteristics, how will they change the nature of our desires?
On tour from Museum Dr Guislain in Belgium – an organisation dedicated to the history of psychiatry – ‘Emotions Go to Work’ presents itself as a cacophony of faces (human and nonhuman) which are either animated, illustrated or performed, alongside a series of symbols of old and new technological advancement.
The multi-media installation comprising film projection, watercolours and cardboard cut-outs, charts the interwoven history of Man and machine through re-workings and pastiches of existing cultural material from our collective consciousness – from samples of early black and white cartoons to emojis, and from early kinetic experiments in film to slick advertorials.
From a smiling typewriter to the Internet of things, ‘Emotions Go to Work’ asks what balance must be struck between creating helpful technologies and entrusting machines with the freedom to reshape us in their image.
An illustrated catalogue to accompany the exhibition can be purchased from our shop.
Video: Artist Zoe Beloff in conversation with Esther Leslie, Professor in Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, University of London, discussing the exhibition ‘Emotions Go to Work’ and their shared research interests.