Invisible Threads–A Virtual Sweatshop in Second Life” is a mixed reality performance installation created by Jeff Crouse and Stephanie Rothenberg. The project explores the growing intersection between labor, emerging virtual economies and real life commodities through the creation of a designer jeans sweatshop in the online, 3-dimensional world of Second Life (SL). Simulating a real life manufacturing facility that includes hiring Second Life “workers” to produce real world jeans sold for profit, the project provides an insider’s view into current modes of global, telematic production.
Using a just-in-time production process, customers in the real world are able to purchase their jeans in SL Linden dollars directly from the virtual manufacturer, Double Happiness Jeans. A microphone and web cam connected to a computer creates a live stream of customer orders into the virtual factory. The audio/video stream projected inside the factory enables SL workers to see each customer and hear their order. On the assembly line, the first worker starts the production process that involves loading cotton bales into the Jaquard loom. Once the fabric is made it moves down the assembly line through each machine. Each worker stationed at a machine is responsible for selecting the correct option based on the customer’s order, men’s or women’s size for example. The worker also has a limited time frame in which to press the correct button otherwise the assembly line stops and the order has to start over. At the end of the production process, the jeans go through the SL to real life (RL) “portal” resulting in an output from a large format printer. Some assembly required.
Created by Jeff Crouse and Stephanie Rothenberg