“Ich bin kein Roboter” (“I’m not a robot”) – on the Internet, people have to prove it again and again. Anyone who wants to use online services often has to solve a so-called Captcha beforehand. This is where the human proves that he is not a spam bot. For example, we see nine small image tiles and are only asked to select those that show traffic lights or cars. The images are from Google Street View. Such captchas sometimes serve two purposes at the same time: they ensure that the bots stay outside – and they help the developers to program better artificial intelligence. So we possibly work with our clicks on the side (and without any remuneration) for large companies, where algorithms are trained with the data.
For us, however, the captcha is just an annoying hurdle that we have to overcome in order to move around the web. The Captcha slows us down, just like traffic jams. Even at the Lenbachplatz traffic junction, we rarely have free travel. Drivers usually stand here for a long time and look annoyed at the traffic lights.
The square format of the billboard at Lenbachplatz looks like a large captcha layout from the web – the individual image tiles show the different perspectives of the drivers who are stuck in traffic at Lenbachplatz. The installation is an attempt to merge network and reality. In this way, the driver’s eyes can be sharpened and some people may appreciate the space again when they discover it doubled here.
In a playful and humorous way, the poster reminds people that they are not robots. But here the viewer does not have to select or click anything, do not complete a task, but simply let their gaze wander over the images. And maybe that’s the difference that will separate humans from robots for a long time to come: only humans can look at and enjoy a work of art for no purpose, just for the fun of it.
Milen Till, *1984, lives and works in Munich.