Mechanical Games, online sports video for turkers

Mechanical Games

Mechanical Games is an online sports-themed video contest. The five competition categories (lifting weights, swimming, hockey, fencing, volleyball) can be realistically represented or interpreted freely (sometimes with surreal results) through 30-60-minute videos. The participants involved were recruited in different ways. The artist Xtine Burrough, creator of the project, was camped inside the cultural center Cornerhouse (Manchester) for a whole day, transforming it into a collective “set” for video: the space (public) has become a place of performing, a theater for a real shared experience. At the local level workshops held in and around Manchester in social care facilities (such as senior centers) have been laboratories for the creation of other (funny) short films. Finally, a request was launched to the “workers” of Mechanical Turk, the Amazon service offering crowdsourcing on-demand (voluntary and costs almost nothing). There are a few simple rules to follow: the “turkers” upload the video of their performance on YouTube, highlighting a printed sheet filled with details of the chosen discipline and country of origin, in exchange for a small fee. All videos were voted on online and they are available on a YouTube channel created specifically to ensure remote access Choosing the Mechanical Turk service (also featured Burrough’s previous work “Mechanical Olympics”) is not new in net art. But here its mechanisms are not exaggerated to emphasize the rotten side, as in Sheep Market by Aaron Koblin. The use of such tools as the Mechanical Turk platform and viral video (this one already a standard in the internet marketing business) here is an ironic trick. The goal is to restore a spontaneous production network, as a strong place for virgin “immaterial labor”, able to sublimate the frozen and heavy capitalist logic.

Chiara Ciociola