is an accumulation of CAPTCHA test results. The CAPTCHAs were transcribed by workers commissioned anonymously via Amazon.com’s Human Intelligence Task marketplace—a site where labor is sourced on a per-task basis to internet users through a searchable database of work requests.
CAPTCHA tests are designed to verify that a user is human by requiring her to perform a visual recognition task (such as deciphering a distorted string of characters) and input the result into a text field. They thus screen out automated programs or “bots” from exploiting website weaknesses.
Here, the CAPTCHA finds its complement in the Human Intelligence Task—a basic skill level task that requires an end user to complete. Within the present technological paradigm, it is a menial task that hovers just above the bar of automation. The human agent becomes a black box in an otherwise automated production process.
Superimposing the CAPTCHA criterion upon HIT workflow, the project closes the production loop between automated algorithm and human operator. The material that results from this procedure is contemporary labor in its abstract form: the incessant task of demonstrating that one is human, the residue of a generalized human intelligence.
For this project that material has been composed in the form of a novel. The first chapter is presented below.
Download Chapter 1 of the novel.
Sean Raspet is an artist and novelist working in Los Angeles. He is studying towards an MFA at UCLA.
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