Sunday, December 13, 2009

Minimum Wage Machine


BLAKE FALL CONROY’S “MINIMUM WAGE MACHINE” is a penny-dispensing Rube Goldberg machine that “allows anybody to work for minimum wage.” The machine has custom electronics, a change sorter, wood, plexiglass, a motor, misc. hardware, lot’s of pennies, and measures approx. 15 x 19 x 72 inches. The minimum wage machine allows anybody to work for minimum wage.

Here’s the concept, and the way it works: turning the crank will yield
one penny every 5.04 seconds, for $7.15 an hour (NY State minimum wage). That means, if you can physically turn the crank for an 8-hour day, you can earn $57.20. If you stop turning the crank, you stop receiving money. The machine’s mechanism and electronics are powered by the hand crank, and pennies are stored in a plexiglass box.
Makes working for minimum wage feel pretty depressing. But the artist has an idea and is quoted as saying:

“In the future, I see possibility in a lot of these machines hooked into a grid, with people performing basic human labor for money. Perhaps a new form of renewable energy generation? A new kind of supercomputer with thousands of people performing basic calculations at minimum wage “stations” across the world? Who knows?

Via BlakeFallConroy.

5 comments:

The Storialist said...

Quite interesting!! I like how this artist is exploring jobs/manual labour/work. I often think about how symbolic most of our jobs are.

John Foster said...

I know, I like it to. Conceptually, you could put hundreds of thousands-or millions of people to work turning cranks all day and night 24/7 to provide electricity to our power grid. It would be a totally dehumanizing exercise to obtain your pennies- like some Orwellian horror story. If it were voluntary, we wouldn't get enough juice for a single light bulb. But if you could keep it up for 8 or more hours, you'd make a living. This artist is on to something I like... it does make you think about the jobs we do...

postcardparadise said...

This is pure genius.

Peyote said...

Would putting those on the city streets make pan-handling obsolete?

"Can you spare a quarter?"

"Go turn the crank!"

jschrempp said...

The future is here: Amazon.com mechanical turk. Unfortunately there you can work all day for less than minimum wage.

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