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PRINT September 2019

GAMING THE SYSTEM

Smartphone showing screen capture from augmented-reality component of Simon Denny’s Amazon worker cage patent drawing as virtual King Island Brown Thornbill cage (US 9,280,157 B2: “System for transporting personnel within an active workspace,” 2016), 2019.

IN 2018, scholars Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler published “Anatomy of an AI System: The Amazon Echo as an Anatomical Map of Human Labor, Data and Planetary Resources,” a revelatory essay, rich with schematic illustrations, that unpacks the extractive processes underpinning “Alexa”—the cheerful, feminine, computer-generated persona that anthropomorphizes Amazon’s home-surveillance algorithms—and the slick speaker device that has enabled her to slip, elegantly, into our lives. “The scale of this system is almost beyond human imagining,” they write. “How can we begin to see it, to grasp its immensity and complexity as a connected form?”1

Simon Denny, Amazon worker cage patent drawing as virtual King Island Brown Thornbill cage (US 9,280,157 B2: “System for transporting personnel within an active workspace,” 2016), 2019, powder-coated metal, MDF, plastic, UV print on cardboard, iOS augmented reality interface. Installation view, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Australia. Photo: Jesse Hunniford.

New Zealand artist Simon Denny used Crawford and Joler’s forensic analysis of the Echo ecosystem as the intellectual framework for his exhibition “Mine,” which opened in June at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, Australia.

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