Student Work

  • Communication Design (BFA)

    Maurann Stein

    Artificial Art

    Online tools are becoming a fixed component of our global workforce. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk), for example, is a marketplace where “requesters” post repetitive, uncreative tasks for completion by a dispersed workforce, in exchange for a miserly commission. Once established, these tools gradually change our modes of thinking about the economy and labor. But it is crucial to question and to think about the responsibility this service carries in the creation of new social and cultural sensibilities.Through this absurd exhibition and auction, Artificial Art presents the products of online labor while working within the confines of MTurk’s privacy policy and terms of use. MTurk uses an artificial form of artificial intelligence—cheap human workers from across the globe—to execute dull, repetitive tasks that computers aren’t yet able to do. This project taps into their creativity. I commissioned anonymous workers to respond to an automated task generator: an algorithm that creates drawing instructions. While the logic behind the instructions is artificial, the workers’ results are utterly human.The resulting art was later presented in book form, then as an elevated artifact at a gallery space in DUMBO, and was eventually sold at a live auction.