Head Tutor and Artistic Director Brooke McArthur will present her paper entitled “The Automated Body in Television” at the 12th Crossroads in Cultural Studies conference in China, from 12 August 2018 to 15 August 2018. The conference is the largest international academic event for scholars and practitioners in the field of cultural studies.
In this paper, I investigate the worker as an extension of automation in producing and delivering television content. It explores the biomechanics of worker’s bodies, their relationship with automation in the various labour processes, and how they have been transformed through the development of automation. Drawing on the biomechanics principle of the body as a machine operated by the machinist, I will demonstrate how the body has now become “an automaton, a mechanism, a machine”, controlled by the needs of automation and a subordinate actor in the complex network of automation (Golub, 1991 p. 211). Further, this paper explores how automation affects workers’ economy of effort and efficiency within the television environment. In recent decades, technology has significantly changed and transformed the socio-technical arrangements in television institutions. While there is some awareness that television environments are positively and negatively affected by automation, there is scarce empirical research on how bodies adjust and respond to technological transformations, particularly in technologically dominant and dependent industries like television. In this paper, I will present ethnographical accounts of automation and the impacts on labour processes and the bodies of television workers. Developing a conceptual framework from cultural studies, media studies, performance theory, and phenomenology, this paper examines the automation of bodies as well as the affective, cognitive, and physical responses to automation in television. This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the spatio-temporal and socio-technical arrangements in television institutions by introducing the complexities of biomechanics, temporality and automation.