University at Buffalo
Department of


Art & Design

Art History

Visual Studies

Invisible Threads: Sweatshop Jean Factory in Second Life

January 22, 2008  by: Dom

Double Happiness

At Sundance you will be able to buy jeans via the internet and literally walk away in them.

Invisible Threads is a collaboration between Eyebeam fellow Jeff Crouse and Stephanie Rothenberg. As Second Life becomes more “populated” the price of virtual land has increased exponentially and become the game’s idealized virtual commodity, further replicating real world economies. In order to emphasize this relationship and the exchange of real world dollars for virtual assets, the SL sweatshop will follow the “indentured servant” model. SL citizens will work in the factory for a set amount of time and in turn be given virtual land in exchange for their service. For the launch of this exciting cyberneurial venture, we will be producing designer blue jeans. Styles include boot cut, skinny leg, flare and the new “Boyfriend” trousers. Profits from these purchases will be used to maintain the factory (monthly land rental tiers, SL advertising) and pay for workers’ land.

People are welcome to visit the factory. You can get there searching the SL classifieds for “Double Happiness”, or by going here and clicking on “Visit The Factory” at the top. This will take you to a site where you can see the island on a map, and then, if you have Second Life, it will launch it for you and take your avatar to the factory. Demo clips

Stephanie Rothenberg is an artist and educator working at the intersection of art and technology. Her interdisciplinary practice merges performance, installation and networked media to create solicitous interactions that question the boundaries and social constructs of manufactured desires. She has lectured and exhibited in the US and internationally at venues including Conflux Festival and the Knitting Factory in NYC, Chicago Underground Film Festival, Interaccess Media Arts Centre in Toronto, 2004 International Symposium of Electronic Art in Helsinki, Central Academy of Art in Beijing, and Sarai Media Collective in New Delhi. She is currently Assistant Professor of Visual Studies at SUNY Buffalo and a 2007 Eyebeam Artist-in-Residence.

Jeff Crouse is an artist and technologist who uses web technologies to create social software, generative projects, happenings, and installations. Past projects include YouThreebe, a YouTube triptych maker, Dirt Party, an installation and performance where salacious information about each attendee is gathered from the web and presented back to the audience, and Switchboard, a Processing (Java) library that allows artists and designers to easily use a variety of live data sources for digital art. He received his MS in Information Design and Technology from Georgia Tech in 2005 and is currently a senior fellow at the Eyebeam art and technology center in New York City.

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