PINK SLIME CAESAR SHIFT, 2018
Single-channel 4K video
Running Time: 24:20c
Pink Slime Caesar Shift is a video integrating live action and animation, whose premise is four proposals to alter the DNA of mass-produced in-vitro hamburgers to carry secret messages of labor insurrection on behalf of Special Economic Zone factory workers in China.
In the last decade, labor protests have increased in China, but they remain brief and localized, due to the government’s clampdown on social media. Large scale labor organizing is stymied by the inability to communicate across distances. Meanwhile, China’s resource capacity has maxed out, and shortages of beef – resulting in counterfeit beef scandals and imbalanced international trade deals– have become commonplace.
If the solution to the latter problem – meat shortage – is the production of synthetic meat originating in cow stem cells (already in development), its workflow would be ideal for solving the former problem – creating channels of communication for political organization – through altering the meat’s DNA as a data carrier. I have identified four feasible methods to do so – and will be developing biological samples exemplifying these methods throughout 2018.
One resource problem resolves another: new methods for grassroots communication via food distribution networks, attends a new source of meat for the table. But the video itself is a message carrier, connecting the speculative proposal with the reality of SEZ workers today. Each “method” speaks of various facets of the so-called Floating Population, legal and medical fugitives to a system that renders their bodies a secret subscript to global industrial production. To that end, I have translated and integrated multiple worker education documents, weaving it in amongst scientific equipment sales pitches, documentary recordings, and poetics on intimate estrangement.
Below are basic principles guiding each proposal, specificities of context and methods of detection/decoding will be modeled over the coming months.
PROPOSAL 1/4: Fluorescent markers for long-term DNA data storage of documents on official labor policy and legal case histories. Often workers do not know their legal rights, making them vulnerable to exploitation.
PROPOSAL 2/4: Microinjection of middle-length documents about labor advocacy organizational structure. Often workers do not know who to reach out to, should they need an advocate, or to spread information and organize direct action.
PROPOSAL 3/4: Biolistic delivery through gene gun: shooting microparticles carrying messages of strike and other methods of large-scale protest in a semi-timely manner at a later stage of production.
PROPOSAL 4/4: Transfection through virus: introduction of “flies” into the “ointment”. Despite needs for large-scale networks of communication, there is still need for smaller-scale channels: in this case, to pass word between workers in a regional zone to undertake a campaign of insurrection: breaking water towers, cutting power lines, and other acts of productivity subversion.
Direction, Props, Sound, and Editing
Director of Photography
Second Camera, Audio Engineer
Soo A Kim
Lab Workers Internationale
VOICEOVER TEXTS (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE)
Anne Carson, Red Doc>, 2013
Sentience Politics, “Cultured Meat: An Ethical Alternative to Industrial Factory Farming”, 2016.
Benjamin Bratton, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, 2016.
PHYS.ORG, “The mysterious 98%: Scientists look to shine a light on the ‘dark genome’”, February 3, 2017.
Promega, “NanoLuc® Luciferase: Redefining Reporter Assays”, 2017.
Worker Empowerment, A Better Life for the Workers (internal education materials), 2016. workerempowerment.org/en/
Corey Tazmania, couples counselor for Tarkovsky’s Stalker and wife (studio improvisation), 2017.
Tom W. Bell, “How Special Economic Zones are Quietly Advancing Freedom,” Foundation for Economic Education, April 11, 2017.
Aihwa Ong, “The China Axis: Zoning Technologies and Variegated Sovereignty,” Journal of East Asian Studies 4, 2004.
Labour Action China, “The Poisonous Pearl: Occupational Chemical Poisoning in the Electronics Industry in the Pearl River Delta, People’s Republic of China,” 2016. brotfueralle.ch/content/uploads/2017/07/160905_SOMO_The-Poisonous-Pearl.pdf
BIO-RAD, “Bulletin 5443: Biolistic Delivery Systems (sales brochure),” 2017.
Purest Colloids, “Testimonials for Mesogold®,” 2017.
Delia Derbyshire, “Dreams: Sea (edited field recordings)”, 1964.