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Rod Dickinson: Zero Sum


Rod Dickinson: Zero Sum

Artist-in-Residence Rod Dickinson talks in a video interview about his work "Zero Sum", which investigates how softwarecontrolled computer systems impact human behaviour. The installation is part of the exhibition "Under Pressure - On Forms of Authority and Decision-Making Power" on show til November 25, 2018 at frei_raum Q21 exhibition space.

Zero Sum consists of an instructional film and a role-play installation with four synchronous audio channels. Rod Dickinson investigates how softwarecontrolled computer systems impact human behaviour and how computational and mathematical models can be used to predict behaviour. Visitors are invited to take part in a classic game theory dilemma situation, guided by a virtual moderator.
Cooperation and non-cooperation are modelled in this simulated dilemma situation; it’s all about how cooperation and non-cooperation arise through application, and assessment of benefits and risks. Through audio channels, visitors hear actors reading reports from employees who work in call centres, supermarkets and sales centres. They talk about their integration in automated work processes, and describe the associated emotional impact on the workforce. The reports are based on interviews, and in their links to a classic game theory dilemma (the volunteer’s dilemma or the “free-rider problem”) show that in automated work environments, decisions are highly restricted, or programmed. Rod Dickinson connects the experiences of the employees with those of exhibition visitors by ensuring that their decisions in the role play are not just limited, but sketched out beforehand or even made for them in the script. Rod Dickinson investigates how integration into automated systems restricts and controls individual scope for action, legitimised in the name of optimisation (optimised decisions) and masked as an increase of freedom and efficiency.

Rod Dickinson was born in 1965 in Southampton; he lives and works in Bristol.

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