• American Standard

      Shenal, Martina M.; Smith, Kaitlyn Jo; Alshaibi, Sama; Farbrook, Joseph; Taylor, David; Vaden, Cerese (The University of Arizona., 2020)
      My thesis project, American Standard, comprised of the works Fixtures and Lights Out, addresses issues surrounding automation by utilizing processes that have rendered the shift-worker nearly obsolete. In American Standard, I have replaced workers with 3D scanning, 3D printing (Fixtures) and machine learning (Lights Out) to question the ethics surrounding the current state of labor practices in the United States, while drawing attention to the individuals that these processes replace. Through this project, I become the archeologist of my own family’s recent past to show that automated America is not some dystopian fantasy, but rather a contemporary reality with implications for the psyche of an entire societal class. The very nature of work in America is changing and along with it the way we view ourselves as both individuals and a nation. With unemployment on the rise, we are experiencing psychological repercussions as well as shifts in America’s socio-economic structure. In her article We Are All Workers, Sarah Banet-Weiser states that, “Historical American mythologies of rugged individualism, stoicism, and persistence have shaped the symbolic construction of the male blue-collar worker as the quintessential American man, the self-made individual who perseveres under hardship, who sees every crisis as an opportunity” (Banet-Weiser 2014, 89). The way we discuss and respond to technological advancements in manufacturing in the front half of the 21st century will greatly impact our species relationship to work for generations to come. American Standard is both an archeological and anthropological examination of the present that asks us to consider the implications of automation on America’s working-class and therefore society as a whole. Over the past two years, my father and I have revisited the shuttered American Standard plant where he, and many of his brothers, once worked. In this landscape, we become the archaeologists of our collective histories through the excavation and preservation of once functional pottery, the toilets made by skilled laborers at the now abandoned American Standard factory in Tiffin, Ohio.