born 1986 in Ireland
Yuri Pattison is a multimedia artist who studies ways in which the virtual world permeates material reality. In his digital works, he focuses on forms of communication within visual culture and undertakes a critical analysis of surveillance technologies and metadata circulation.
The exhibition features two works by the artist. In the “Outsourced Views, Visual Economies” project, Pattison contacted the low-paid workforce plying their services on the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform. This is a “micro-work” marketplace created by the famous American retailer aggregating listings for tasks that currently cannot be carried out by a computer. Users can browse the available tasks and choose to complete any of them for the remuneration offered by the requesters, often not exceeding the amount of one dollar.
The individuals completing the tasks are citizens for whom the work they find on Amazon Mechanical Turk is the main source of income. Pattison’s video is a collection of smartphone video snippets and photos taken by AMT suppliers of the view from their windows (nearest their work place) after the artist posted a listing for such a task on the website.
The website “Familiarity Breeds Contentment,” meanwhile, is a virtual extension of a material work presented in the gallery space – a functional server that was specially programmed by the artist. The server placed inside the exhibition redirects to a website (http://184.108.40.206/) on which the artist installed a bot, i.e. a programme performing an activity in place of a human (a popular application for bots is to imitate human behaviour online).
The bot programmed by the artist scans the web in search of information relating to issues like privacy, surveillance, authorship and online freedom as well as topics relating to the context the work is shown. Pattison analyses the online technological environment from the perspective of a physical object, a small metal box marked with the logos of two mutually-contradictory organisations: Google, responsible for the mass distribution of information in the virtual cloud and one of the original pirate websites, The Pirate Bay.