The Cubicle Island Pirates, Microworkers, Spambots and the venatic lore of clickfarm humor is a conceptual comic book project, an experiment with the distributed ramifications of digital labor. The book collects hundreds of desert island cartoons, a genre that reached its peak of popularity in 1957, possibly as an expression of a Cold War fear of the nuclear bomb. I have detexted the original text captions and I solicited microworkers, through the interface of a popular digital labor platform, to submit a funny text between 50-70 words for each one of the cartoons. Microworkers are considered to be the operators of the smallest unit of work in a virtual assembly line. The term microwork describes a series of small tasks that are completed by many people over the Internet to comprise a large unified project, such as this book. Microworkers are most often asked to complete tasks for which no efficient algorithm has yet been devised. Microwork describes the deployment of human labor, and occurs in platform-mediated, zero-hour contract regimes that benefit minimal transactional frictions and the absolute circumvention of applicable minimum wage laws. As a labor force, microworkers find themselves in an important moment in the History of Labor; a stepping stone to Artificial General Intelligence’s exponential acceleration of technology that promises a new era in social and economic abundance.
The Cubicle Island is a durational performance based on 50 years of desert island press cartoons that highlights the extreme isolation that comes with new regimes of work in the making of an international class of precarious cognitive workers. Without sacrificing the cartoon’s semantic complexity and reader engagement, the book puts the emphasis of comics in their digitally distributed, partly human labor. The percolation of the comic strip units through the reader swarm of the digital factories and their cheap algorithmic surrogates, calls into question the primacy of the punchline and the drawing as the defining factors of the cartoon format and the comic industry. The Cubicle Island labors silently through the products of an extremely deskilled textual workforce, both human and non-human, and embraces the epistemic and technological accelerationism put forward by the interconnectedness of the global precarious. In the age of surveillance capitalism’s selective transparency, it thematizes new formations of labor and leisure. Limited print run, published by La Cinquieme Couche (BE) and Forlaens (DK). 1500 pages | hardcover edition | 2020 | 178mm x 254mm | SOLD OUT