DFTD








How can we tell the dancer from the dance?


“It is not just because we are simply “caught” inside a totality, the totalizing character of which even the most totalitarian master narratives of modernity could not have hoped to match; it is because we accept that the terms under which we are caught inside that this totality can no longer be negotiated.” (Roelstraete)

The objective of our brief was to explore and analyze the idea of a situated practice. Looking at how through investigating concepts, or rather, situated realities, one slowly starts to discover how tightly intertwined the various elements of that reality are with the context in which they sit  - To the point that it becomes very difficult to distinguish between which is influencing which.

Our brief was determined to be located in a small town named Rugeley in the Midlands, UK. Rugeley is an old mining town which is approaching the dusk of its golden era, due to the decline of the coal industry. 
The game hijacks the jigsaw puzzle as a medium used to explore the working conditions inside an Amazon Fulfilment Centre. The aim of our jigsaw puzzle was not to create a specific image, in fact, it is nearly impossible to create any one image twice. Each jigsaw piece is indexed with a number and colour. There are two separate images, both cut with the same pattern and both indexed the same. For example, both 17-Green and 17-Orange can fit into the 17 slots on either side of the board.

This is made possible through an app which works in conjunction with the game. The app was designed to look and feel very similar to the interface used on the computers inside the fulfillment centre - which provided precise instructions to the workers. The app splits the screen in half, each player is assigned one half. The application randomly chooses a jigsaw piece for each player, which they have to then located and place in the correct spot on their side of the board.
This draws from the practices inside the fulfillment centre where the managers explicitly say that their objective is to create a system in which the workers don't have to think about what they are doing or the significance of their tasks in the propagation of said system.
The aim is for them (the workers) to be able to follow the script given to them precisely, - the aim is to create a machine that makes machines. This is oddly enough the opposite of playing a typical jigsaw puzzle, where the objective of the game is to create a particular image. In fact, the framework of the typical jigsaw puzzle was completely subverted

The puzzle was created through an iterative design process in which we spent hours playing each version with Amazon employees during their break. Our goal was not to polarize the working conditions or dilute them to being just detrimental or favourable. Instead, Our aim was to use a very ubiquitous medium (a board game, specifically the jigsaw), and by flipping the mechanics of the reward system, we were able to create a tension that lead the player to question her role as a player. This presented an opportunity for reflection, not only on the working conditions within a fulfillment center but a deeper look at our interactions and relationship with technology now and going into the future.