Final build?:imaging the local-global landscape of Hewlett-Packard, Ireland

Mark Curran, Dublin Institute of Technology

Document Type Article


This practice-led thesis constitutes a timely response to the absence of audio and visual representation of labour practices and post-industrial space in the context of Ireland’s accelerated economic development during the past decade, resulting in its current status as the most globalised economy in the world. The significance of Ireland’s global position is amplified by the fact that the South of Ireland never experienced the Industrial Revolution and has thus been propelled from an agricultural-based economy to one defined as post industrial. In both its methodological design and implementation, the study stakes out new terrain through the combined use of photography, digital video and ethnographic methods, further engaging with the oral testimony of workers in the post-industrialised multinational location, fieldsite of Hewlett-Packard Manufacturing and Technology Campus, Leixlip, County Kildare.

The thesis comprises three chapters together with an introduction and conclusion. The first chapter situates Hewlett-Packard’s presence in Ireland within an historicised and economic framework, while simultaneously providing critical readings of propagandist representations by the public and private enterprise sectors. The chapter’s juxtaposition of these readings, together with disparate spatio-temporal labour practices, historical periods and the introduction of different theoretical paradigms, enacts a strategic textual device used throughout this chapter and the following two. The second chapter engages directly with methodological questions underpinning the research project, alongside foregrounding different field work practices. The textual presentation of interview transcript material, photography and digital video is brought into dialogue with depiction of industrialisations form the late nineteenth century to the present. The third and final chapter both identifies and establishes theoretical and representational strategies at work in the rationale, design and content of the re-constitution of the research material in the format of an installation titled ‘The Breathing Factory’.