Hardly Working
Hardly Working

Total Refusal: Susanna Flock, Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, Michael Stumpf
4 channel video installation, 2021

An ethnographic exploration of the work and life realities of non-player characters, the digital extras in video games

This video work sheds a limelight on the very characters that normally remain in the background of video games: NPCs. They are non-player characters that populate the digital world as extras to create the appearance of normality. A laundress, a stable boy, a street sweeper and a carpenter are observed with ethnographic precision. They are Sisyphus machines, whose labour routines, activity patterns as well as bugs and malfunctions paint a vivid analogy for work under capitalism.

Total Refusal, the pseudo-marxist media guerilla, explores and practices strategies for artistic intervention in contemporary computer games. It works with tools of appropriation and rededication of game resources. Their films and performances were presented among others at Berlinale‘20 and at the MoMA in NYC and they recently received the award for the best Austrian short documentary (Diagonale’20, Graz).