Josh Kline, Saving Money with Subcontractors (FedEx Worker’s Head), 2015–17. Three 3-D printed sculptures in plaster with inkjet ink and cyanoacrylate, cast urethane foam packing peanuts, vinyl, cardboard, and MDF, 35 x 27 x 27 inches (88.9 x 68.6 x 68.6 cm). General Acquisition Fund. © Josh Kline
Working at the intersection of sculpture and video, New York-based artist Josh Kline raises salient questions about the impact of technological innovations on human bodies, while confronting issues of labor, corporate culture, and the politics of privilege and control. Saving Money with Subcontractors (FedEx Worker’s Head) is part of a group of sculptures in which 3-D printed body parts of FedEx workers are displayed in a FedEx box filled with packing peanuts.
In 2014, Kline began making 3-D scans with a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera, a photographic process in which hundreds of images are taken of an individual subject from different perspectives. These images are then composited and 3-D printed. Kline took FedEx delivery drivers as a subject—specifically the individuals who delivered regularly to his studio—with a critical interest in commenting on how FedEx employees, and other third-party contractors, are regularly denied full benefits. In Saving Money with Subcontractors, the worker’s disembodied head is 3-D printed three times, once according to his real-life appearance, and twice more with his features overprinted with FedEx logos, bar codes, and documents. They rest on a bed of cast urethane foam packing peanuts also formed from the driver’s head, lending the work a surreal quality that also reads as a portrait of contemporary corporate subjugation. According to Kline, the technique of compositing fragments resonates with how companies and government agencies collect information about people: “Fractured aspects of our lives accumulating in different databases, creating subtly different portraits.”
Kline’s Saving Money with Subcontractors and Frank Benson’s Juliana (2014–15)—both included in the 2018 exhibition Art in the Age of the Internet—bolster the museum’s strong holdings in sculpture, and represent new technological developments in the medium through 3-D scanning and printing.