Spring1883 Art Fair
Alpha60 Chapter House 
Melbourne, Victoria

The Cloud is of the Earth (v1-4) was exhibited with Haydens alongside artists Guy Grabowsky and Jordan Halsall. I would like to thank Chloé Hazelwood, Dr Timothy Lynam, Hayden Stuart, Dean Schrieke and Constant Ecology for their support of the project.

In 1770, the Hungarian inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen designed a chess-playing automaton known as the Mechanical Turk. Kempelen’s machine exhibited human-level intelligence for the game of chess, however, the automaton was later revealed to be operated by a human, uncomfortably concealed in a small cabinet beneath the chessboard. Inspired by Kempelen’s hoax, Amazon launched the ‘crowdsourcing’ platform Mechanical Turk (MTurk) in 2005. Contractors use MTurk (labelled the human cloud) to recruit human workers remotely to complete repetitive microtasks (known as Human Intelligence Tasks or HITs) that algorithms are currently unable to automate. As a form of remote work, human cloud platforms have gained popularity during the pandemic for newly unemployed people forcibly working from home.

On the MTurk platform, AI companies uphold Kempelen’s illusion of the ‘autonomous intelligent machine’ by actively concealing the distributed human labour that allows their systems to function. The Cloud is of the Earth (v1-4) presents a series of videos provided by over 200 human workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk in response to video-based tasks requested by the artist. Each requested task asked workers to respond subjectively in selecting a short video of personal significance from their recent archive. Using recycled and reconfigured MacBook screens, The Cloud is of the Earth (v1-4) depicts the diverse backgrounds, perspectives and experiences of the ‘concealed human workers’ training the algorithms operating behind our applications, devices and screens.

-Amalia Lindo
Click here for the exhibition review

Image Details

The Cloud is of the Earth (v1-4)
Five-channel video installation, liquid-crystal display panels (LCD’s), LCD controller boards, stainless steel, acrylic perspex
Dimensions variable
9 min 13 sec

© Amalia Lindo 2024