The human hand in the manufacture of high-tech products

I enjoyed Isabel Mager’s talk at the Design Indaba 2017 festival, she investigated the role of human labour in the manufacture of high-tech products. A discussion sorely lacking in the design community. Check out her film, 5000times:

5000times _ manual tasks from Isabel Mager on Vimeo.

Our smart high-tech devices are made by human hand. How often though do we realise – as we sit swiping – that somewhere, someone is testing the image quality of such devices by doing nothing else than taking thousands of selfies each day? 5000times investigates the extensive, repetitive and even absurd human labour that is essential to the creation of our smart devices. Kapton tape, which is used along assembly lines for electronics, acts as narrative evidence of the human trace within.

Humans are the most adaptable machines and the idea of a total automated production process remains fictive; development, purchase and maintenance of machinery are far more expensive and complex than human labour.