Figure 1. My View from Work activity example.
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.
This activity fulfills Curricular Competencies in BC’s New Curriculum for the following subjects and classes:
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.
Through this activity participants will:
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
ESTIMATED TIME: 15 MIN
Figure 2. Something More than Nothing exhibition view. The Reach Gallery Museum. Photo by David Campion.
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.
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.
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).
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.