“Oblomo”, SAŠO SEDLAČEK (SI)
Title of the artwork: Oblomo
Author: Sašo Sedlaček
ARTWORK ABSTRACT IN WORDS OF THE ARTIST
“Borrowing its name from Ivan Goncharov’s character Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, the laziest character in world literature, the Oblomo project is a commercial “no work for work” platform. Does the project pose the question: can be doing nothing be the ultimate form of work in the age of automation? By employing the very technologies that make us work all the time, such as biometrics, the Oblomo platform turns laziness into a value, both ethically and economically. It democratizes once-privileged values and changes our perspective on laziness from something despicable to something worthy, thus turning laziness into a productive activity with purchasing power.”
The artist calls us to answer the following question: “Can doing nothing be the last form of work in the age of automation?” At the opening of the exhibition Oblomo: Busy Being Lazy (October 28-November 26, 2020, at the Aksioma project space) the windows were opened wide and invited all the passing public to laze around. On the street there were accessible tablets where you could mine cryptocurrencies in Oblomo wallets by simply doing nothing, which you could then spend. If someone was too lazy to leave their home, they could also withdraw coins into their Oblomo wallets from the comfort of their couch at home. The exhibition had four spaces: gallery, public, private and Internet. In any of them you could not work , and to this day the #drivein market is still open every day. “Let your laziness finally pay!”
WHAT DOES THIS WORK TRANSMIT TO US?
What materials / media are used in the work and why?
Based on a blockchain with its own cryptocurrency, the Oblomo platform rewards users for standing around doing nothing. When the machine learning (AI) software platform detects the user’s lack of activity, it rewards the user with Oblomo coins. In this process, known as coin minting, the system creates coins from an Om block, the base of the blockchain, which functions in the system as a raw material and is mined according to the protocol established in the Om for Coin performance. With the coins earned in the wallet, users can go to the platform’s marketplace and buy various services and goods offered by other users.
What is the significance of the elements of the work?
With the rise of artificial intelligence and the automation of work, the value of non-human labor is about to radically change. The Om for Coin performance marks the launch of the Oblomo blockchain platform, which aims to turn non-labor into value with the help of blockchain technology. Users of the platform will coin the Oblomo cryptocurrency by sitting still, sitting, meditating or lying down in front of their devices, while being observed by a machine learning software platform (the AI platform).
The project was launched in November 2019, when the first coins were created in the Oblomo ecosystem. In the Om for Coin performance, three people, the “miners,” will be seated while performing the meditation mantra “Om” in front of a live audience. Meanwhile, the AI platform will monitor them and record their meditation on the blockchain. This procedure will create the first block record in a long blockchain that they will follow in the continuation of the project. The central part of the performance is the realization of the protocol in which certain conditions must be met: the monitoring of inactive miners by the AI platform in a process that is verified by the audience. This protocol is used to control the amount of Om blocks from which the cryptocurrency can continue to be minted. As a result, it controls the amount of raw material in the system: every time it runs out, the previous procedure must be repeated.
Oblomo is a visionary representation of the individual in the 21st century, where physical labor will soon be performed by artificial intelligence and robots. And because of the devastating impact of continued human efficiency on the environment and lack of reflection, the project also carries an environmental and health message. Sloth is organic, ecological and healthy.
About the artist
Sašo Sedlaček (1974, Ljubljana) is a Slovenian contemporary visual artist working in the medium of installation, video and animation. In 2000, he graduated in sculpture and video at ALUO – Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, where he has been teaching since 2015 as an associate professor in the Department of Video and New Media. He is the winner of numerous awards, including the Trend Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Culture (Ljubljana, 2012) and VIDA 11 (Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, 2008). His works are included in various private and public collections. He regularly exhibits in international exhibitions such as: Tipei Biennial, Taiwan, Land(e)scape, Kunstlerhaus Graz, Austria, Ogaki, Japan, ISCP Open Studio, New York.
Author of the analysis: Helena Hernández Acuaviva