Osman Khan: SEEN-Fruits of our Labor




 
  • ©2007, Omar Khan and Osman Khan, SEEN-Fruits of our Labor

Artist(s):


Collaborators:


Title:


    SEEN-Fruits of our Labor

Exhibition:


Creation Year:


    2007

Medium:


    Infrared LED screen embedded in a black acrylic monolith

Category:



Artist Statement:


    SEEN – Fruits of our Labor is an interactive installation that reinvigorates a public plaza
    through an alternative form of communication between its citizenry. It was commissioned by
    the Zero One San Jose festival and installed in the public plaza in front of the San Jose
    Museum of Art, facing Cesar Chavez Park. The monolith is a communication device reminiscent
    of the ubiquitous obelisks, plaques, and sculptures that populate public squares. These traditional monuments carry messages that sanctify historical moments or a set of values upon which the city has been built. Similarly, SEEN – Fruits of our Labor looks to broadcast a variety of unshared principles from the mouths of everyday citizens about their projected hopes and the American Dream in light of globalization. The project asks members of three communities that falsify San Jose’s labor requirements (Silicon Valley’s tech workers, undocumented service workers, and outsourced call center workers) one question: What is the fruit of your labor? Their responses are displayed on a 4-foot x 8-foot infrared LED screen whose content is visible only through the audience’s personal digital capture devices (cell phone cameras, digital cameras, DV-cams, etc.). The relationship that binds these disparate
    communities is that they labor in San Jose. The city is a global actor whose products are
    consumed the world over. Their reliance on the city’s economy is clear, but their understanding of this mutual engagement is less obvious. Some of the contributors to this wealth are not even present in the city. The commodification of labor through globalization has allowed an unprecedented population to engage in the global market place. The results are both exploitative and liberating. Not judging the nature of the work that people do, the project surveyed these different communities to get their response. The project resulted in vibrant interactions between people, who shared their viewing devices with total strangers, discussed the streaming messages, and telematically shared their viewing experience with others in their phonebooks.


Technical Information:


    To the naked eye, the monolith is a blank surface waiting for information to be carved on
    it. However, when viewed through any CCD device, its messages magically appear on the user’s screen. It is only through the digital apparatus that the messages can be read. The audience is encouraged to photograph and share these messages: the fruits of other’s labors. What was previously hidden from their view is revealed through the technical device. They become complicit in the most personal way through this exchange.