State Scrounging as Means of Production
The social security and benefits system in the United Kingdom provides a means of production for artists*, enabling them to live at a subsistence level of dole autonomy and use nearly all their time for their own projects. The benefit system includes housing benefit, which allows the artist to rent a one bedroom flat and have the rent paid by local government. The artist can choose to commit benefit fraud, by earning extra income from festivals, exhibitions, shows or work-on-the-side in the black economy and not declare this income.
However during the last few years the neo-liberal policies of New Labour is under a crusade to re-impose the work ethic, and is determined to make people work in the market place rather than live off the state. Under this 'Welfare to Work' programme you are only entitled to receive benefits if you constantly and actively seek work, and are able to prove this when requested. If you cannot prove you have been looking for work benefits will be suspended. Furthermore, with these policies of compelling people to work, wages would inevitably become depressed and existing workers would have less leverage to press for improved conditions.
This software art project seeks to subvert this government programme, by providing means for the automatic generation and printing out of authentic looking job rejection letters. Instead of looking for work, these generated fake letters can be used as the proof of seeking work, but at some risk of being discovered that they are fakes.
The software is based on modeling typical job rejection letters. These were collected via internet searches. The software will generate letters that consist of rejection texts, company names, addresses and logos, dates and letter headers, automatically creating variations of layouts and typeface. It is then just a case of pressing GENERATE and PRINT. By photocopying the letters, it is possible to avoid the need of using different paper types. They have to be signed too.
* with this text I use term artist, whilst the benefit system is available for the adult population of the UK.
This project was comissioned by the software art factory Readme 100 in Dortmund 2005 and is presented in the resulting publication: Readme 100 Temporary Software Art Factory, Books on Demand GmbH, Norderstedt, Germany, 2005.
feature about this project: Reject Me
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keywords: subversive-information-criticism-generative-capitalism software for mac
category: political and activist software/illicit software
uploaded by o, 07 Dec 2005