This installation by artists Ginger and Sugar lures us into the fantasy space of a dystopian robot brothel in order to explore both intricacies of feminised sexual labour and the possibility of its automation. In our current time emotional labour is the oil that keeps the capitalist machine running. Care, kindness, intuition are relegated to the feminine realm of the mysterious and unscientific, not real work but part of the ‘natural’ behaviour of a feminised subject. Ironically these invisibilised and uncompensated forms of work, overwhelmingly performed by women, are likely to be the last to be lost to automation. Notably much research into ‘strong’ AI is characterised by a fantasy of the female service robot replacing the ‘undesirable’ work of receptionists, teaching, care for children and the elderly, and sex work. Whilst would seem a natural conclusion to want to first eliminate the work society deems least worthy, development of automated emotional labour is crucial if they are to avoid a future where men’s work is obsolete and women’s still highly necessary. With the first life-like robot brothels already in existence and as the possibility of strong AI approaches, likely within our lifetime, sex workers are increasingly being forced to contemplate the possibility of our obsolescence. Drawing upon the galatea myth present in sci-fi and B-movies, notably Frankenhooker (1990) Sugar and Ginger explore these futurities with the insight of artists and as workers of the sexual proletariat.
Installation and sound piece (which can be heard by lifting her hands to your ears).