The objects and structures that surround us—from the walls of this gallery to the clothes on your back—are built on networks of production that span borders and millennia. To manufacture a single smartphone, miners extract ancient lithium in Bolivia, workers in China provide hundreds of hours of manual labor, and programmers around the world write rivers of code. Far from being isolated processes, these activities feed and complement each other, creating a tangled web of people, materials, and data.
Taking inspiration from Anatomy of an AI System, a data visualization by Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler, this installation explores what Crawford and Joler have described as the “interlaced chains of resource extraction, human labor, and algorithmic processing.” The works on view use the tools of design to visualize and respond to cycles of production and the complex global networks they form. They also look critically at how these cycles facilitate the exploitation of materials, people, and other life-forms on Earth.
Organized by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, with Anna Burckhardt, former Curatorial Assistant, and Maya Ellerkmann, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design.