xtine is a new media artist and educator. Her projects motivate interactive audiences to understand virtual experiences as personal arenas for discovery and meaning-making. She is an abstract thinker, conceptual artist, collaborator, and writer.
After a helpful talk with my peers, Andrew Demirjian and Heidi Boisvert, I revised my compilation of Turker Om chants to produce a seemingly endless (let it loop and it will be endless) chant. My intent is to create a social project in which anyone can add their Om to the video.
This is a first attempt at assembling a group chant from single media submissions I have received in an on-going call on the Mturk.com website for “Om Chants.” Yes, it’s sort of a weird job to ask the Turkers (as the workers call themselves) to complete. One worker labeled his file, “A Chant for all Turkmanity.” Indeed.
For a project that I’m producing right now I’m collecting Om chants from Mechanical Turk workers. I can’t believe I didn’t predict this—naturally, downloading and watching these videos has transformed my usual computing mode into one that is slightly less stressful.
I can’t stop myself from working with the Mechanical Turk workforce. As a digital media artist with a participatory, collaborative trajectory, the Turkers—as they call themselves, are reliable and willing collaborators in the form of an online “crowd.” Perhaps wisdom is to be had. I consider my Amazon payments to be the price of “art supplies,” in the same way a painter has to buy brushes and paints…And as far as the Turkers are concerned, I think that much of the work they do on the Mturk.com site basically constitutes a digital sweatshop. The laborers are far underpaid and work in conditions that go undocumented. No one keeps track of the time they spend working or if computing-related health hazards occur as a result of their work on Mturk. So I hope that my projects, which mostly get them off of the screen and encourage some kind of in-body experience, are worth their time and the payment.
So I was trying to think of a way to work with the Turkers again in 2015, seen as how it is not an Olympic year (for those years I host the Mechanical Olympics and the Turkers perform athletic, sometimes silly, Olympic-style events). I had a bit of an “aha” moment one night this January, as I was reviewing events of the week with the Turkers tucked away somewhere in the back of my mind. During that week I had an incredibly fruitful meditation session. I can’t say that I meditate regularly. I try to do it everyday but it often doesn’t happen. However, there was this one day, one time, that I felt truly rested when I came out of the meditation. I thought: Wow, that’s what this is all about. I felt my body gain something tangible from just resting for several minutes. As I revisited that experience I had the simultaneous thought: That’s it! The Turkers should rest! So…off I went to my Mturk.com requester account to pay the Turker workforce for doing: Absolutely nothing. Please, let me pay you to do nothing. Let me pay you to rest and experience what it is like to just sit for a few minutes with nothing to do but be.
In the instructions, I asked the Turkers to set a timer and rest for 1 to 5 minutes. Then I collected their thoughts. I encouraged them to write 10-100 words about their experience. Here are a few thoughts from the Turkers on being paid to rest or just on resting, in general:
I rested for 3 minutes. To be honest, it wasn’t as restful as I would have liked, since I have a horrible stomach ache, and I don’t want to be working right now, so I spent the time wondering how to avoid these situations in the future.
Well, my rest consisted of sitting here and fidgeting. I have a hard time just sitting still with my eyes closed. Also my cat started using my leg as a scratching post and my fiance asked me why I was sitting there with my eyes closed and if I was all right. It wasn’t too terrible though. It was nice to not do any hits for a minute (well 4 minutes) Thank you.
My rest was a much needed break from all of the stress I am under right now, so thank you! I closed my eyes in bed and the few minutes that went by passed so slowly. It really was great!
I went and relaxed on the sofa in my office for three minutes. It was nice to take a break from staring at the computer screen, though I wish had it been a bit longer. It was a short, but enjoyable break that I appreciated.
i laid on the couch with my cat for two minutes. then thought i’d fall asleep and forget to submit this. now, i’m going to go take a nap since i was so comfortable there.
The following links to an iOS app and a website, an interview transcript (PDF), and an interview audio file (MP3) are included in support of xtine burrough and Dan Sutko’s proposal, The Women of El Toro:
Walk on Wire is an iOS app developed by xtine burrough in 2014. Burrough’s Delocator website, first developed in 2005 and maintained through the present day, is another work sample demonstrating interactive media design proficiency.
A PDF transcript of one transcript provides an example of the many interviews the Center for Oral and Public History have in their archive.
Nearly three years ago Eduardo Navas and Owen Gallagher reached out to me to collaborate on a book project they had been developing on remix studies. Just weeks ago, our years of working together arrived on my doorstep in hard-cover form: The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies.
The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies comprises contemporary texts by key authors and artists who are active in the emerging field of remix studies. As an organic international movement, remix culture originated in the popular music culture of the 1970s, and has since grown into a rich cultural activity encompassing numerous forms of media.
The act of recombining pre-existing material brings up pressing questions of authenticity, reception, authorship, copyright, and the techno-politics of media activism. This book approaches remix studies from various angles, including sections on history, aesthetics, ethics, politics, and practice, and presents theoretical chapters alongside case studies of remix projects. The companion website is a valuable resource for readers, educators, and students.
This project was truly fun to work on and I’m honored to have collaborated with so many creative and thoughtful artists and scholars.
Halftone Scroll of Jack Holding His Scroll. Digital prints on vellum with Highland tape, 5.5 by 14 feet. Right wall: Marked-up book and On The Web via touch-device.
Image tiling in Illustrator was the key to production in the making of this giant scroll of Jack holding his scroll. A happy accident: The pixelization in the halftone pattern sort of looks like a copyright symbol (appropriate seen as how the image this is based upon is appropriated from a photograph taken long ago by Gerry Nicosia) and/or a smiley face (an image that sometimes appeared on LSD stickers, I forget how I know this but it’s not by direct experience…anyhow, Jack would have probably liked that reference even though the publication of On The Road was a little ahead of the Timothy Leary era).
Forget the ice bucket, pour nothing over your head, especially on Saturdays. Join me in a promise not to shower each Saturday as we conserve water during the draught. #showerlessSaturdays
xtine is a new media artist and educator. She has authored or edited several books including Foundations of Digital Art and Design (2013), Net Works: Case Studies in Web Art and Design (2011), and The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies (2015). She has co-authored other works and contributed chapters and articles to anthologies and scholarly journals.
Informed by the history of conceptual art, she uses social networking, databases, search engines, blogs, and applications in combination with popular sites like Facebook, YouTube, or Mechanical Turk, to create web communities promoting interpretation and autonomy.
xtine is passionate about creating works using digital tools to translate common experiences into personal arenas for discovery. She is a Webby Honoree, has received a Terminal commission and an award from the UK Big Lottery fund.
An associate professor of Communications at CSUF, she bridges the gap between histories, theories, and production in new media education.