On-Demand Workforce (2018)

Publication

A PDF is available for download.

Includes an essay by Moshe Z. Marvit, author of the book 'Why Labor Organizing Should Be a Civil Right: Rebuilding a Middle-Class Democracy by Enhancing Worker Voice'.

Graphic Design in Collaboration with Lukas Engelhardt and Paul Bille.

font → arial
paper → 100g/qm offset uncoated
binding → wire-o, plastic
pages → 118
edition → 28
price → 25€
availabilty → contact me via email

Digital Labor

"From delivery, transportation and household errands, to professional services and consulting, the on-demand economy is not only changing the way people consume goods and services, it’s also changing the way millions of Americans work. With incredible flexibility and stunning ease-of-entry, this new economy is empowering a new generation of entrepreneurs. In an updated forecast by Intuit and Emergent Research, the number of people working on-demand jobs will grow from 3.9 million Americans to 7.7 million in 2020, and an impressive 9.2 million by 2021." (Dispatches from the new economy: the on-demand workforce second annual report, february 21, 2017)

Amazon's web-based platform, Mechanical Turk, offers "access to a global, 24/7, scalable workforce" which I "only have to pay if I'm satisfied". I was unaware that Amazon was connecting employers to a global network of over 500.000 workers. I started to outsource. Outsource the work I usually do myself – producing images and documenting. I received results within minutes. Gained insight into peoples lives all over the world. I saw what they and their rooms looked like. If they were young or if they were old. Tired or awake. What jobs they worked on and how much they got paid for it.

I realized that Amazon made day labor suitable for the digital age. The technologies of Silicon Valley still rely heavily on human contribution, since there are numerous tasks that computers simply can't perform. The workers become part of a machine, implemented into an algorithm-based work chain. Through controversial legal constructs Amazon enables companies to bypass labor laws and regulations in order to secure minimum costs for the industry.

Physical Labor

On Amazon's Mechanical Turk I offered one dollar to a worker that would jump for ten minutes and film himself. This would add up to 6 Dollar per hour. A price that does not take into account the time needed to find, read and accept the job, set up the camera, copy and edit the files and upload them to the internet.

Even though I hired the worker from a country which has a legally binding minimum wage, this doesn't apply for crowdsourcing workers. They are considered individual contractors by Amazon. In this digital labor market I gave a task and it was executed. No negotiations about the price. No questions about the sense or purpose of the job. And once this work was done, all the worldwide ownership rights of it were given to me.

Installation Views

Scarecrow (2017)

A caretaker is being photographed standing inside a building complex with a cleaning utensil.

A worker wears branded clothes.

Two workers of a facility management company perform cleaning tasks for the camera.

Hi8-Video, In-camera editing

Fragmentation Zone (2017)

I looked at the traffic flow of a roundabout in Switzerland.

“According to the Tiqqun collective, we have become the innocuous, pliable inhabitants of global urban societies. Even in the absence of any direct compulsion, we choose to do what we are told to do; we allow the management of our bodies, our ideas, our entertainment, and all our imaginary needs to be externally imposed. We buy products that have been recommended to us through the monitoring of our electronic lives, and then we voluntarily leave feedback for others about what we have purchased. We are the compliant subject who submits to all manner of biometric and surveillance intrusion, and who ingests toxic food and water and lives near nuclear reactors without complaint. The absolute abdication of responsibility for living is indicated by the titles of the many bestselling guides that tell us, with a grim fatality, the 1,000 movies to see before we die, the 100 tourist destinations to visit before we die, the 500 books to read before we die.” ― Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep

3-channel projection, HD, 3:00 Minutes