Sensations and Experiences in the Infosphere of Cyberspace

By Ulrikke Myklebust Johansen.


This autumn the Norwegian Visual Artists arranges the Annual Autumn Exhibition at Kunstnernes hus in Oslo for the 131th time. One of the artworks at the exhibition, The Invisible Handjob of New Economy by Ayatgali Tuleubek, is a video installation containing 43 smartphones placed on a 160 x 180 x 40cm stand, [1] where the screens show human hands that perform what at first glance look like mundane activities and tasks, but at a closer look seem to be tasks that reference the click-farming industry. [2]


In the click farming industry companies in third world countries hire people to work manually to generate clicks for hours on end, usually poor and low-paid, where the employees work three-shift systems and can earn as little as a dollar per thousand like [3]. It’s nothing new that humans exploit resources that we deem useful, in this case crime syndicates that exploit cheap labour paired with low-cost connectivity to the internet [4]. But with the smartphones as the ones generating clicks and likes on virtual platforms it can give us a heads up on how humans become obsolete since machines and artificial intelligence outperform human skill and efficiency. The click-farming can be done by third party software, or bots, running the fake social media accounts. And at the same time there would be in ever increasing development of algorithms working to counter them [5].

Another aspect of the installation can be our social media culture where we constantly seek acceptance, critique and appraisal on virtual platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram [6]. And how likes, shares and tweets gives form to feelings of happiness, wellness, panic and angst in the infosphere of cyberspace, “the quasi-public space that encompass interrelated and attendant platforms of communication and their devices” [7]. Where the smartphones in the installation assume a form of power related to the proliferation of signs and communication through technology of publicity. On the other hand the things seen, said or shown in the virtual world are irrelevant. What really matters is how the amount of clicks and likes affect and delivers pure sensation to the viewer [8].

As Irmgard Emmelheinz writes in Images Do Not Show: The Desire to See in the Anthroposcene: “In communicative capitalism images and signs acquire value and power by means of being seen through these “likes/shares/retweets”. Where sign-value has replaced exchange-value means, moreover, that material things are no longer consumed directly. But operate instead as cognitive signs embedded in and around viewers.” [9] By being a part of and interacting with the virtual world we’re constantly exposed to sensations that go beyond everyday perception. In the process all the images and information circulating the internet is affecting our minds with varied kind of stimuli. All the advertisements, videos and images are purposely charged with affect, some of which we are aware of and others that are subtle. The effect is either way that the information we like, share or retweet imprint on our cognitive sensation and give different forms of sensations and experience. These sensations and experiences can then be exploited in the forms of work in click-farming, rebranded and sold as new experiences or in some cases exciting lifestyle choices [10]. Independent of who performs the tasks, whether it is being done by machines, artificial intelligence or humans it doesn’t necessarily make the sensations or experiences less authentic. Or have less power within the virtual platforms of communication and their devices.


Notes


[1] Høstutstillingen.no, «Ayatgali Tuleubek».

[2] Ibid

[3] Munson, «What is a click farm».

[4] Arthur, «How low-paid workers at click farms create appearance of online popularity».

[5] Ibid.

[6] Tellefsen og Tønnesen, «Høstutstillingen er ingen kuratorisk drøm, men det trenger den heller ikke være».

[7] Emmelheinz, Images Do Not Show: The Desire to See in the Anthroposcene, 135-136.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, 137.

[10] Ibid.


References


Arthur, Charles. 02.08.2013. «How low-paid workers at click farms create appearance of online popularity». https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/aug/02/click- farms-appearance-online-popularity

Emmelheinz, Irmgard. 2015. «Images Do Not Show: The Desire to See in the Anthroposcene». In Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies. Edited by Davis, Heather and Turpin, Etienne. Open Humanities Press.

Høstutstillingen.no. 2018. «Ayatgali Tuleubek». https://www.hostutstillingen.no/2018/ayatgali-tuleubek/

Munson, Lee. 15.10.2007. «What is a Click Farm». Security FAQs. http://www.security-faqs.com/what-is-a-click-farm.html

Tellefsen, Ingrid. And Tønnessen, Bjørg. 11.09.2018. «Høstutstillingen er ingen kuratorisk drøm, men det trenger den heller ikke være». Subjekt. https://subjekt.no/2018/09/11/hostutstillingen-er-ingen-kuratorisk-drom-men-det- trenger-den-heller-ikke-vaere/

OSLO FORM LAB 2018