On "Amazonia"

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Roger Beebe

Abstract

This essay grows out of Amazonia, a 2019 short “desktop cinema” essay film about the cities where Amazon.com had their four original distribution centers. The film uses those cities as a way of thinking about how the virtual economy is transforming real space. Using the film as a starting point, the essay focuses on the specific forms of labor necessitated by e-commerce, exploring most specifically the labor of the “warehouse associates” who perform the manual labor necessary to produce the apparent magic of online purchases. The essay ends with a consideration of the persistence of older forms of physical labor despite the push to automate some parts of these jobs. 

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