Laboring Images / Images of Labor – international conference

10 November 2023, 1PM – 6PM

FAMU in Prague, Smetanovo nábř. 2, 116 65 Praha 1, Room U1

  • Opening Remarks 
  • Images, Saccades and Fixations; The Photographic Elaboration of Computer Vision – Nicolas Malevé (Aarhus University)
  • Outsourcing paradise(parasite) – eeefff collective 
  • Gig Economy Art and Its Dark Matter – Silvio Lorusso (Lusofóna University & Design Academy Eindhoven)
  • Serious Work – Helga Lutz, Daniel Eschkoetter, Eva-Maria Gillich (Bielefeld University)
  • Concluding Remarks & Book Presentation (Jussi Parikka: Operational Images. From the Visual to the Invisual)

Harun Farocki is known for coining the term “operational images”, images which take part in technical operations. Importantly, operational images are images that labor, they are literally working images, fulfilling a task within an operation. For Farocki, operational images take part in automation of vision labor: the eye labor of technicians seated in control rooms, surveillance centers, and military training facilities, monitoring automated systems, is replaced by automated systems that monitor or analyze data. Suchautomated image systems have become ubiquitous. And yet, it seems that automation of vision has increased the demand for the labor of human vision. In fact, machine learning systems demand millions of tagger’s and annotators’ eyes looking at images, their retinas becoming indispensable elements in the human-machine interface. This particular human vision labor is machine-like, dull, repetitive, the kind of work about which it is assumed that it can be, will be or even should be soon replaced by technology, a pointless job. 

What is the relationship between labor of vision embedded in machine-human systems, disciplined to be as efficient and productive as possible, and artistic, aesthetic vision? What are the histories of labor of vision and seeing that are part of technical processes? What kind of  artistic strategies tackle the current, invisibilized and marginalized vision labor behind machine learning algorithms? How can we continue Farocki’s legacy that problematized the ideological invisibility of labor (image-making labor in particular)? What critical theories  grasp the situatedness of humans who perform this sort of labor; in other words in what ways is this labor gendered, classed, and located in peripheries?