My View from Work: Activity Inspired by Contemporary Artist Michael Mandiberg

Self-guided activity


Figure 1. My View from Work activity example.

OVERVIEW

Try your hand at an art making activity inspired by contemporary artist Michael Mandiberg, and his work in the recent group exhibition Something More than Nothing, which was presented by The Reach from May 23 to September 15, 2019.

This activity is designed for middle school students from grade 6 – 8.

 

CURRICULAR COMPETENCIES

This activity fulfills Curricular Competencies in BC’s New Curriculum for the following subjects and classes:

  • Arts Education 6, 7, 8.

To see relevant connections between this activity and BC’s New Curriculum, see downloadable PDF “Curricular Competencies Related to My View from Work: Activity Inspired by Contemporary Artist Michael Mandiberg.”

RELATED CONCEPTS AND VOCABULARY

Hidden or invisible labour | Collaborator

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Michael Mandiberg is an American artist who makes artwork about how peoples’ lives are affected and shaped by technology.

LEARNING OUTCOMES

Through this activity participants will:

  • Learn about art made by contemporary, New York-based artist Michael Mandiberg, that was included in the exhibition Something More than Nothing.
  • Consider the use of technology in art and how this figures into Mandiberg’s View from the Window at Work.
  • Identify hidden or invisible labour in the world around you.
  • Capture your own view from wherever you work, and share it with others.

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

  • A phone camera
  • A photo editing app, e.g., “Photos” on an iPhone or another photo editing app if using an Android device

 

ESTIMATED TIME: 15 MIN


Figure 2. Something More than Nothing exhibition view. The Reach Gallery Museum. Photo by David Campion.

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION Something More than Nothing

Something More than Nothing is an exhibition of artwork by six diverse artists, whose work all deals in some way hidden or invisible labour: work that is not seen, or valued, or adequately paid.

Figure 3 (left). Michael Mandiberg. View from the Window at Work. 2016. Installation view at The Reach. Photo by David Campion.

WORK OF ART IN Something More than Nothing

This activity connects to Michael Mandiberg’s installation of photographs called View from the Window at Work.

 

How did Michael Mandiberg make this work of art?

Michael Mandiberg used technology to help create his artwork View from the Window at Work. Mandiberg hired many anonymous collaborators (someone unknown to the artist) through a website. Mandiberg asked each collaborator to take a photo of the view they see from the spot where they work. In total, Mandiberg received 221 images from 221 different people, showing a wide variety of different kinds of work spaces and views. The artist took all these photos and attached them to the wall in a large grid pattern to create the work of art called View from the Window at Work. Mandiberg paid each collaborator 25 cents for their photos.

Why did Michael Mandiberg use collaborators to take the photos? Why didn’t Mandiberg just take the photos?

By working with anonymous collaborators, Michael Mandiberg is making two important statements.

1. First, the artist is making a statement about how normal it is, in today’s world, to work with people online rather than face-to-face. Instead of working with someone in the same building, it’s common to communicate with a coworker over email, or even work with someone that you’ve never met (maybe someone from another country!) in order to get a project done.

More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has also changed where people work and how people work together. In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, schools and businesses closed their doors to the public in March 2020 and many carried on with work from home. Students connected with their teachers from the comfort of their own homes over email or video conferencing platforms online like Google Meet or Zoom.

Think about it! You may be doing your schoolwork from home right now, but you probably know all the teachers and students that you are connecting with. Imagine that you are collaborating on a class project with a student that you have never met before. That’s what Michael Mandiberg was doing when the artist created View from the Window at Work. How would not knowing the person you are talking to online change how you interact with them?

2. When people see the photos in View from the Window at Work, they often assume that the images have something to do with the artist’s surroundings. By presenting images that are from someone else’s viewpoint, Mandiberg suggests that images are not always what they seem to be.


Figure 4. Michael Mandiberg. View from the Window at Work (right) and Quantified Self Portrait (One Year Performance) (left), another work by Mandiberg, as installed at The Reach. Photo by David Campion.

ACTIVITY

In this activity, you’ll be taking photos from your place of work. Your place of work may be where you do your school work, your place of paid employment, or a place that you regularly do unpaid work (like housework or caregiving).

  1. What is your view from work? What can you see from where you work? Is it a computer screen, a view outside your window, or something else?
  2. Incorporate the phrase “My view from work” into your surroundings. You could type the words onto a computer, sculpt the words out of plasticine or sticky tack, or collage letters from old newspapers or magazines.
  3. Take a photo of your view on your phone, and include the phrase “My view from work.”
  4. Click on the “Photos” app on your phone to view your chosen photo. Click “Edit.” (Note that the pictures from step 5-9 use the photos app on an iPhone.)
  5. Choose a filter.

6. Click on the “Markup” icon.

7. Choose a fun colour and make a shape.

8. Play around with shapes and text.

9. Share your creation with your social media following. Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram (@thereachgallery) and Twitter (@TheReach) and use the hashtags #TheReachAtHome and #MyViewFromWork.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

  1. Think about the work that people do around you that isn’t immediately recognized. Maybe it’s the fact that your dad does the grocery shopping or your aunt brings meals to your grandpa. There are all kinds of tasks – big and small – that are often ignored but so important! Take some time to try and see the invisible labour being done by the people around you. Find a way to show appreciation for those people.
  2. What are the benefits of working or going to school remotely? What are the drawbacks? How do you think working or attending school remotely will affect your behaviour when you go back?

 

EXPAND

Try the activity portion of this lesson again, but this time with a partner. Share the photos that you’ve taken of your “View from Work” and with a partner (in person or remotely), decorate each other’s photos. Compare the results with one another when you’re done. How did it feel to “work” on someone else’s project?


Figure 5. “Viewer Response Wall” related to the exhibition Something More than Nothing at The Reach Gallery Museum. Photo by David Campion.

KEEP TRACK & GIVE BACK

If you use this free resource with your students at school / at home, we’d love to hear from you! Send an email to Diana Hiebert (Curator of Learning and Community Engagement at The Reach) at dhiebert@thereach.ca, with your comments including the number and age range of participants. This statistical information is important to us as a not-for-profit organization and will allow us to continue offering this kind of content.

 

Downloadable Resources

Download Curricular Competencies (160KB)

Download a PDF of this Lesson Plan (8MB)