Cyborgian Salariats

Rationalization and the White-Collar Worker in Sasha Stone's “Hundred-Horsepower Office”

in Screen Bodies
Author:
Stephanie Bender PhD, Florida State University, USA

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Abstract

This article examines Sasha's Stone's photographic constructions of the salaried worker, or die Angestellten, within the rationalized Weimar office as published in his 1926 photo essay “Das 100-Pferdige Büro—keine Utopie” (The hundred-horsepower office—no utopia). I analyze his images of the modern office and the white-collar employee as participating in the public discourse regarding the highly debated phenomenon of rationalization, presenting the Angestellter as a tool of rationalization rather than an individual, creating automata-like employees that fit with the broader trend of depicting such employees as what Matthew Biro describes as cyborgs, or human-machine hybrids. I assert that Stone's essay performs a dialectic role in relation to other, distinct versions of the same photographs, suggesting that technology within the sphere of the modern office, while inevitable and necessary, is possible only through the subjugation of the individual humanity of those at work by such technology.

Contributor Notes

Stephanie Bender is an art historian specializing in modern European art and photography with a focus on the visual culture of interwar Germany. Within this focus she maintains a critical interest in the social aspects of art and photography. She earned her PhD from Florida State University in 2019. Her dissertation focuses on photographs of the white-collar middle class in Weimar Germany as understood through the critical theory of Siegfried Kracauer.

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The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology

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