Ralph Prichard has been working on a script for a film that follows a character who works for an app start up called Shouldr. This app seeks to offer support and help to alleviate some of the emotional stress and load its users face living through contemporary urban life. The way this speculative app works is once you pay for it, download it, and login, you are connected with a live person on the other side who works as a sort of casual contractor or freelancer to the app, like an Uber driver would. One of these self-appointed workers is Pritchard’s protagonist who is also a student living in the city of London, over-working to the point of exhaustion, as an emotional labourer.
With the feedback of peers and Chris Kraus throughout the institute, Pritchard has taken the time to rigorously work on the particulars of the characters in this fictionalized world and raised the stakes of the situations they find themselves in.
Pritchard’s potent take on ideas of emotional labour as it plays out in our present-day technology laden lives opens up a number of critical conversation threads including what it is to capitalize on making others feel better and why we incessantly require others to convince ourselves of our place in the world.
Pritchard abandoned their film studies in the first year of their post secondary education in favour of a self-taught approach to learning and alternative ways to articulate himself and his ideas. They discussed with me how that route allowed them to gain valuable experience in journalism, curation, and filmmaking.
However, in the coming fall they will be enrolling again in art school. They have used their matured portfolio to apply to an MA program at the Royal College of Art in London. “I’ve got concrete things I can work on and ideas I need space to explore. Crucially, I know what I'm about. I always disliked school so it was important for me to define myself outside of institutions before returning.”
"It was encouraging at the interview stage that the staff at The Royal College of Art seemed like people that are curious about my politics and experiences, not just my ‘practice'" Pritchard asserts.
To close our chat with Prichard, I queried him on what they thinks the world needs more of and to that they responded saying: we need strong, hopeful narratives for the future because society is going to look extremely different in 40 years time. So we need to believe that that change will be positive. How we talk/think/feel about this ongoing crisis informs how we respond to it. Where I live in London more and more artists are taking part in political processes and generally it isn’t burning them out, it’s making them feel more connected. This is excellent. I like to be around other artists, because usually they are struck by the same urgency and uncertainty as I am, but we mustn't let the uncertainty isolate us.