Can doing nothing be the ultimate form of labour in the age of automation?
By employing the same technologies that make us actually work all the time, such as biometrics, the Oblomo platform turns inactivity, motionlessness, laziness into an economic value. It democratizes once privileged values and changes our perspective on idleness from something despicable into something worthy, thus turning laziness into a productive activity with purchasing power.
Located in the lounge area of Exportdrvo, the installation consists of loungers, various sensors and a system which uses computer vision and machine learning. Based on a blockchain with its own cryptocurrency and machine learning software, the Oblomo platform rewards users for being inactive. When the application detects the user’s non-activity, it rewards it by sending Oblomo coins to their electronic wallet. Users can spend coins on the platform’s market which is at its core a non-work for work exchange platform, where users goods and services are being exchanged and sold.
The Oblomo platform is a web application that works in a browser, so anyone can use it on their phone, tablet or computer, practically on any device with an internet connection and a webcam.
The project was initiated in November 2019 when the first coins were created in the Oblomo ecosystem. In the performance Om for Coin, three individuals – the “miners” – performed the meditation mantra “Om” in front of a machine learning software surveillanced by a live audience. This created around 2 000 000 new coins which are now available to the public for mining and trading.
The Oblomo project got its name after the 1859 novel Oblomov, by Russian writer Ivan Goncharov. In it, the main hero Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, undoubtedly the laziest hero in world literature. Although he spends most of his time in bed, Oblomov isn’t really lazy — or at least he is only slothful in the physical sense. Intellectually, he is a fizzing ball of energy.
Oblomov is a visionary representation of the individual in the 21st century, in which physical work is soon to be done by artificial intelligence and robots. And due to the devastating impact of continuous human effectiveness on the environment and lack of reflection, the project also carries an environmental and health message. Laziness is organic, ecological and healthy.
Sašo Sedlaček holds a BA in sculpture and video from the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of Ljubljana (UL ALUO). Since 2015, he has also been working as an associate professor in UL ALUO’s Video and New Media programme. Among others, his work has received the Trend Award for exceptional achievements in visual culture (Ljubljana 2012) and the VIDA 11 (Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, 2008), and is featured in various private and public collections, including the Museum & Galleries of Ljubljana (MGML). Since 2001, his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at numerous venues, most recently: Aksioma | Project Space; City Art Gallery of Ljubljana; Espace Apollonia, Strasbourg; Contemporary Art Palazzo Torriani, Gradisca d’Isonzo; Autostrada Biennale Prizren; Handel Street Projects; UGM, Maribor; +MSUM, Ljubljana; AND Festival, Grizedale Forest; Wro Art Center; Ars Electronica; transmediale. In 2020, his project Oblomo, featuring an alternative cryptocurrency based on laziness, will be featured at Dopolavoro within the Rijeka 2020 ECoC.
Photo: Domen Fras