Michael Mönnich

On-demand Workforce
10.03.18 - 20.03.18

“Amazon's web-based platform, Mechanical Turk, offers ‘access to a global, 24/7, scalable workforce’ which I ‘only have to pay if I'm satisfied’. I was unaware that Amazon was connecting employers to a global network of over 500.000 workers. I started to outsource and received results within minutes. Gained insight into peoples lives all over the world. I saw what they and their rooms looked like. If they were young or if they were old. Tired or awake. What jobs they worked on and how much they got paid for it.

By offering one dollar to a worker that would jump for ten minutes and film himself I am reproducing a common practice of requesters on the platform. I use it as a tool to sustain colonial inequality and use an imbalanced power relationship to level down wages. The median hourly wage on the platform is set around 2 dollars, according to a detailed study. The one Dollar for ten minutes would add up to 6 Dollar per hour. A price that does not take into account the time needed to find, read and accept the job, set up the camera, copy and edit the files and upload them to the internet. It didn’t took long for a worker to accept the task – voluntary. But is there even a free choice in neoliberal capitalism?

Even though I hired the worker from a country which has a legally binding minimum wage, this doesn't apply for crowdsourcing workers. They are considered individual contractors by Amazon. In this digital labor market I gave a task and it was executed. No negotiations about the price. No questions about the sense or purpose of the job. And once this work was done, all the worldwide ownership rights of it were given to me”.

Michael Mönnich (1992, Germany) is an artist who is researching the field of labor and its transformation caused by technological development. Interested in undermining and deconstructing the structures of our current capitalism he is using art as a mean to bring together information in different contexts. He questions and investigates webservices, texts and image-based material. Formally trained in photography he is now studying Fine Arts at the Akademie der bildenden Künste München, with exchanges abroad at ECAL (École cantonale d‘art de Lausanne ) and KABK (Royal Academy of Art The Hague).