Unknown Label

Nicolas Gourault

8 February 2023

Video Installation: 3d modelling and found footage 

In 2018, leading German car manufacturers, taken aback by the advents of Google and Tesla, invested a lot of money in research on autonomous vehicles. They gathered an immense amount of images taken by their cars that they needed to process in order to train their algorithms. This process, called “image segmentation”, consists in manually outlining and labelling elements of interest in the image. It is very labour intensive and still cannot be automatised, it is thus outsourced to online microworkers from the Global South. 

Unknown Label (2023) explores the daily reality of online micro-workers from Venezuela, Kenya and The Philippines who annotate images for self-driving cars. It reveals the hidden people that help shape how machines see the world, as well as the categories used to encapsulate our world and make it accessible to the machines, thus asking questions about the politics of these categories and to what extent they in turn affect the world we live in. 

Artwork included in the exhibition Millennials, the media art of Generation Y.