Tempo Tempo consists of a double channel video and a kinetic object which form a narrative about accelerating the production process and enhancing work performance in order to increase competitiveness and improve profits. The video contains archival footage of the research by Frank Bunker Gilbreth (1868–1924), a pioneer of time and motion study. In his research, Gilbreth developed methods for searching for the most efficient way of carrying out a specific task in order to increase the efficiency of workers. The archival footage is complemented with modern footage from a factory making metal products. Here, the robotisation and automation of the production process have become a reality, thereby rounding off centuries-long endeavours to improve performance. Workers at the plant reflect on what the robotisation of production brings and how it has impacted the status of human labour. Their considerations are complemented with statistical data allowing comparisons of work norms and labour costs of a robot and a worker from the said plant.

The title of the work is taken from the agit-prop play with the same title performed in 1930 by a theatre group of German immigrant workers called Prolet-Buehne in New York. The characters of the play include a capitalist, a policeman and seven or ten workers. The text of Tempo Tempo also serves as an element linking the video in which an immigrant worker in Slovenia is reading one part of the text which the kinetic object/metronome reproduces through the sound modulation of a spark. Sparks are used as a reference to Gilbreth’s research into the optimal relationship of the worker’s effort to the volume of work that the effort accomplishes. Mounting a source of light on a worker’s hand, Gilbreth, who then employed time-lapse photography, recorded the trail of light created by the movement of the worker’s hand. 


By combining historical and contemporary materials, statistical data and private statements, the visual and the acoustic, together with the artistic and the research approach, Tempo Tempo conveys in layers a complex narrative about the interrelationship of technology, labour, subjectivity and the criticism of capitalist production relations.

In collaboration with: Technical assistance by Andrej Primožič / Camera by Toni Mlakar / Editing by Ana Fabjan

Photos: Tomaž Lunder, Toni Mlakar, Klemen Korenjak

Year of production: 2014