Of the Subcontract is a collection of poems about computational capitalism, each of which was written by an underpaid worker subcontracted through Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk service. The collection is ordered according to cost-of-production and repurposes metadata about the efficiency of each writer to generate informatic typographic embellishments. Those one hundred poems are braced between two newly commissioned essays; the whole book is threaded with references to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Wolfgang von Kempelen, and the emerging iconography of cloud living.
Of the Subcontract reverses out of the database-driven digital world of new labour pools into poetry’s black box: the book. It reduces the poetic imagination to exploited labour and, equally, elevates artificial artificial intelligence to the status of the poetic. In doing so, it explores the all-too-real changes that are reforming every kind of work, each day more quickly, under the surface of life.
More on Nick Thurston's new book, Of the Subcontract, over on the information as material website.