Categorising huge amounts of data used to educate emotion recognition algorithms is one of the many micro-jobs assigned to man in the age of Artificial Intelligence. The Cleaning of Emotional Data was created around these tasks, part of a trilogy to follow Technologies of Care (2016) and Labor of Sleep (2017) and now the central piece of the ongoing solo show at Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, part of Hyperemployment.
These are new forms of precarious work, ‘microworkers’ in charge of labelling, categorising, annotating and validating a large amount of data that enables Artificial Intelligence. This type of labour is carried out by the artist herself, working remotely for several American companies. The Cleaning of Emotional Data leaves a trace of these micro works, entering the linguistic gaps between man and machine, each with its own interpretative parameters, an issue that becomes rather delicate when emotions are the subject.
A series of textile works, Amiss Motifs, made in collaboration with Michael Graham of Savant Studios are also on show. This work is based on a juxtaposition: the abstract lines of facial expressions extrapolated by algorithms and untranslatable facial expressions described in Sicilian and American dialects. These were the two languages which the artist found herself experiencing while she was a micro-worker, staying in Sicily and collaborating with an American company. The fabric used was obtained from waste material, a new canvas for unruly and “incomputable” emotions. The discourse extends to encompass the broader picture of man-machine relationships and touches on another point, perhaps the most delicate with regards to language because of it involves emotional aspects.
Up to now, Elisa Giardina Papa has focused attention on interstitial spaces and moments, privileged angles for a critical view of things, starting with Technologies of Care, commissioned for the historic platform rhizome.org. The artist analysed, through a series of interviews with a wide variety of online operators (dating coach, video performer, fairytale author, etc.) the immaterial work carried out through internet platforms, as in this last work, indicating the physical dislocation between the worker’s place of belonging, the nationality of the company managing the platform and the platform itself in its global and ubiquitous organisation.
Labor of Sleep (2017) focuses on sleep as the new frontier to optimise by creating and optimising new patterns (of sleep) with which to collect biological and behavioural data to improve the quality of life. With this last work, now on show at Aksioma, Elisa Giardina Papa continues research that moves between worlds and languages and from which she observes with an anthropological lens the evolution of the relationship between man and machine, with a view to creating new awareness of the mechanisms that regulate it. The world of emotions is undoubtedly where the interpretative boundary becomes more delicate in relation to the exchange between man and machine.
Elisa Giardina Papa.Cleaning of Emotional Data, Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 15.01 – 07.02.2020
The solo show is part Hyperemployment, curated by Domenico Quaranta, MGLC – International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubliana, 07.11.2019 – 19.01.2020 (please view also the Interview to Domenico Quaranta, Arshake, 18.12.2019
images: Elisa Giardina Papa, «Cleaning of Emotional Data», exhibition view, Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana (15.01 – 02.02.2020)