UnProductive Solutions

Rebekah Modrak, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design

Collaborators: Marialaura Ghidini, curator, course leader Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology 

Artist Rebekah Modrak and curator Marialaura Ghidini have launched UnProductive Solutions, an artwork/curatorial project posing as an international holding company develops digital technologies designed to challenge the capitalist logic of hyper-efficiency. The project offers a critical perspective on technology and its impact on us as humans by investing in products and platforms that honour the irrationality of human emotions and the pleasures of idleness and fortuitous occurrences.

Over the course of ten weeks, UnPro is launching five new technologies developed by “subsidiary companies.” Each company is an artistic project by an international artist invited to collaborate with us. Their tech services explore the externalities of the gig economy, the Blockchain as a kind of Cargo cult that presumes to dispense precious objects, the moralistic discourse of the post-internet plateau,  the displacement of algorithmic assistive technologies with human poetry,  and bio surveillance and the boundaries of our bodies, among other topics.

At present, two “subsidiary companies” have launched services on UnPro: The Emotional Labor Wage Calculator — was developed by TRK: technically responsible knowledge (founder and CEO, Caroline Sinders – New Orleans, USA). The calculator offers insider advice on the challenges of e-delivery jobs and to help consumers calculate what an equitable wage should be. The second service — proof of word — was developed by Trust Chain Solutions (founders Guido Segni and Matìas Reyes – Tuscany, Italy) and allows people to register a promise using blockchain technology.

This week, NO DATA INSTITUTE (founder, Tara Kelton — Bangalore, India) joins the UnPro portfolio of subsidiaries. From March 10 – March 19, their service —The Storage Search Engine™ — will connect you with a human search agent who will provide a real-time response to your search request using their personal histories, knowledge, and physical surroundings. Escape your echo chamber with instant access to minds around the globe. No data is stored.  

Over the next five weeks, UnPro will launch two additional technologies. The artists behind these companies are Bruce Asbestos (Nottingham, UK) and Lauren Lee McCarthy (Los Angeles, USA).

Who we are / 
Bios and Web Links
We have been working together as Modrak&Ghidini since 2017, when we launched the project #exstrange – an intervention into the online marketplace eBay. We bring together our different interests: Rebekah’s creative resistance to consumer culture using the company-as-medium, and Marialaura’s interest in online curation and working with various exhibition formats, from web radio shows to electronic shops to the web and print publishing.

Marialaura Ghidini is a curator whose work explores the intersections between art, technology and society. Interested in working with various exhibition formats outside the gallery, Marialaura founded the curatorial platform or-bits.com (2009-2015) and has curated projects such as ‘#exstrange’ (2017) on eBay; ‘Silicon Plateau’ (2015-) in print; and ‘The C(h)roma Show’ (2014) in an electronics shop in Bangalore, India. She has researched the field of curating on the web since her PhD, and recently published the archive project ‘curating.online’ (2021) and ‘The Broken Timeline’ (2022), conceived with Annet Dekker and Gaia Tedone.  Currently, she works as a curatorial consultant and carries out her practice independently, also under the moniker ://ftp.

Rebekah Modrak is an artist and writer whose practice is at the intersections of art, activism, critical design, and creative resistance to consumer culture. She examines consumer culture’s relationship to race, class, and gender, and within the realms of online marketing, education, and social relationships. Her web-based artworks, such as Re Made Co. (remadeco.org) and RETHINK SHINOLA (rethinkshinola.com) disrupt consumer messaging and expose complex and patronizing agendas of marketing working class identities in NYC or the White savior myth in Detroit. She is co-editor of the recently published Radical Humility: Essays on Ordinary Acts (Belt 2021) in which twenty writers from philosophy, psychology, consumer culture and other fields consider humility as a state of being within an age of digital shouting. She is a Professor in the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan. https://rebekahmodrak.com/

UnProductive Solutions was established with seed funding from ArtsEngine, The Institute for Research on Women and Gender, the Institute for the Humanities, the Stamps School of Art & Design, and the University of Michigan Office of Research.