Clumsy Click-Work
A treadmill computer interface that translates immaterial, invisible digital labour into more conspicuous manual labour.




“A mechanical treadmill, hacked with cardboard cogs, faces a computer. As the rubber belt rotates, a cursor fidgets across the screen. Exaggerated beyond a twitching index finger, the movement required to operate this interface is exploded. Limbs gesture clumsily, a sweaty kind of conversation swallowed into the pixels of a screen.”
 Project Text for “Hey Look Something is Happening” Book. Click for PDF 

This installation foregrounds the importance of clumsiness in our relation to the digital world in hopes of softening the rigid expectations that are woven through our technologies. Clumsiness makes space for that which is not understood by normative scheduling, attempting to unsettle our priorities of the productive self. To make room for clumsiness is to acknowledge a temporality of care while asking how we might design our technologies with these alternate temporalities in mind?


I joined several microtasking platforms and began using my treadmill contraption to complete jobs, each paying barely a pound. The microwork of completing surveys, image labeling, photo retouching became an intensly manual and cumbersome process as my body is swallowed into symbiosis with this machine. 




The seconds that workers are expected to complete tasks within have become thick with the demands of movement. Tayloristic effeciency is at odds with the grotesqness of a sweaty body in motion. 

As capitalism continues to treat our bodies as work-machines, within a system where the accumulation of wealth depends on it’s exploitation, this performance asks whether there are pockets of resistance to be found in movement and clusminess. In frivolous and excess motion (or maybe something closer to dancing) perhaps we can begin to “define our bodies in ways that are nondependant on our capacity to function as labour power

Research/Prototyping: 

   Reappropriating the Captcha using the P5JS library. Webcam inserts a video capture of the user into the grid, overlayed with text about playbour and invisible work. 

Experiment with using more ambigious, subjective Captcha prompts

 Body Operated Computer Loading Mechanism: Using Xcode, video playback is controlled by a rotary encoder attached to the spinner. 

References
1. Beyond the Periphery of the Skin, Silvia Federici 2020 

2020  

BA Design Graduation Project 


For more visit:

https://heylooksomethingishappening.com/Michelle-O-Higgins-Theilmann