Nick Thurston & Kimmo Modig explore absence on the road & in content production for their respective Montez Press Radio shows

, 5 September 2018

“There’s no people anywhere. It sounds very lonely,” says Kimmo Modig, as part of his narrative contribution to the Somewhere I’ve Never Been (SINB) audio book, produced by the Helsinki-based artist in collaboration with author and AQNB editor Steph Kretowicz. The radio show — commissioned as part of the Montez Press 2018 summer residency program, which ran July 19 to August 19 — features a collection of field recordings, music, excerpts and insights taken from the book of the same name published in 2017.

In its sixth episode, the series pulls focus on Modig’s interpretation of a vast archive of audio material, taken by Kretowicz during a road trip from New York to Los Angeles, where her dictaphone becomes its own character in the SINB narrative: “[It’s] as if the world is running on autopilot. You hear the elevator beeping, the music playing from nowhere… I was wondering if the act of recording made it less so, for you.” 

Meanwhile, for AQNB’s collaboration with writer-producer Matthew O’Shannessy, artist, writer, poet and outsourcer Nick Thurston discusses authoriality in the age of AI and algorithms for the Content Prole: A journey into the depths of the online gig economy radio show. ‘Episode 3: Artificial Artificial Intelligence: “Who’s taking responsibility for these texts?”’ covered Thurston’s 2013 book of poetry, Of the Subcontract, in which he produced 100 poems using Amazon labour pooling tool Mechanical Turk.

Named after the 18th and 19th century chess-playing automaton, the site uses human labor in a way that makes it look like artificial intelligence, while actually employing thousands of low-paid workers and using the tagline “artificial artificial intelligence” to promote it. Thurston’s texts were organised according to cost of production rather than any thematic affinity, running from one cent to one dollar. The conceptualist work provides a fascinating insight into content generation today and the gestures of consent that enable it.**

Montez Press’ third summer residency was on at New York’s Mathew Gallery, running July 19 to August 19, 2018. You can hear previous episodes of Content Prole and Somewhere I’ve Never Been on the AQNB Soundcloud.