Ghostwork (2023)

Mary Gray and Siddharth Suri define ghost work as the hidden human labor that powers our digital systems. In the performance of this title, I act as the human interface between two generative technological systems, making visible the labour that responds to and produces data, as my body acts as the database of lived experience.

One computer generates a series of five animations that are played on a television monitor. These are created in random order, with each animation running for a period of time between one and five minutes. I have assigned an exercise to four animations– run in place, jumping jacks, squats, and burpees – and one for rest. I perform the exercise in accordance to what animation plays back. Due to the random parameters coded into the animations, I am unaware of how long they will run or in what order. I wear a bluetooth heart rate monitor that connects to a second computer where a slitscan camera (a camera that shoots only the middle column of pixels and lays it out horizontally) captures my movements. My heart rate controls the colour of the video and frequency of sound that this second computer plays back. Every time something goes wrong – the sensor disconnects or a bug disrupts the programme – I scream “Crash” and fix it. Once resolved I scream “Override” and return to exercising. The performance ends after one hour.

This work was developed for and is being exhibited in the solo exhibition PseudoRandom at the Emerson Contemporary Media Art Gallery (Boston, MA), curated by Leonie Bradbury (January to March 2023).