Art Inspiration: Minimum Wage Machine

Blake Fall-Conroy, “Minimum Wage Machine,” 2008-2010. This machine allows anyone to work for minimum wage for as long as they like.  Turning the crank on the side releases one penny every 4.97 seconds, for a total of $7.25 per hour.  This corresponds to minimum wage for a person in New York. This piece is brilliant on multiple levels, particularly as social commentary.  Without a doubt, most people who started operating the machine for fun would quickly grow disheartened and stop when realizing just how little they’re earning by turning this mindless crank.  A person would then conceivably realize that this is what nearly two million people in the United States do every day…at much harder jobs than turning a crank.  This turns the piece into a simple, yet effective argument for raising the minimum wage. Here’s a piece that another artist is working on that could also help inspire change in the U.S. government.  He’s trying to raise money to send every U.S. Senator a copy of Dr. Seuss’ “The Zax.”  They clearly should have paid more attention to stories about compromise like this in kindergarten.  

Blake Fall-Conroy, “Minimum Wage Machine,” 2008-2010

I love the concept behind the minimum wage machine. The piece allows anybody to work for minimum wage. Turning the crank will yield one penny every 4.97 seconds, for $7.25 an hour, which is NY state minimum wage. If the participant stops turning the hand crank, they stop receiving money.  I would imagine this starts out fun and then the mindlessness and repetitiveness of the physical task at hand gets old quickly. (I’m sure nearly two million people in the United States might agree). Great way to raise the minimum wage.


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