An ethnographic exploration of the work and life realities of non-player characters, the digital extras in video games. Their labour loops, activity patterns as well as bugs and malfunctions paint a vivid analogy for work under capitalism.
The stable boy stands still for a long time, isolates himself and does nothing: Total Refusal makes him a character who regains control over his time, who finds himself in a moment that does not belong to his work. The stable boy extracts himself from the organized and synchronized world of the game, he emancipates himself from a determined future where each of his gestures has a finality to become the model of a “total rejection” of being part of the pre-established society. The suspended moments are glimmers of hope, they draw a door of exit, a hope to derail the machine, the objective of the Marxist collective. Hardly Working ends with a powerful phrase “Can we start sliding?” that makes the film a call to derail the organized world and an anti-capitalist manifesto.
Paul Lhiabastres (Formatcourt.com, august 2022)
The pseudo-marxist media guerilla Total Refusal explores and practices strategies for artistic intervention in contemporary computer games. They work 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, Austria). The current members of Total Refusal are: Susanna Flock, Adrian Jonas Haim, Jona Kleinlei