Of the Subcontract

Or Principles of Poetic Right

by Nick Thurston, McKenzie Wark,

Of the Subcontract: Or Principles of Poetic Right
US$4.99
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 177056490X
  • 9781770564909
Of the Subcontract is a collection of poems about computational capitalism, each of which was written by an underpaid worker subcontracted through Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk service. The collection is ordered according to cost-of-production and repurposes metadata about the efficiency of each writer to generate informatic typographic embellishments. Those one hundred poems are braced between two newly commissioned essays; the whole book is threaded with references to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Wolfgang von Kempelen and the emerging iconography of cloud living.

Of the Subcontract reverses out of the database-driven digital world of new labour pools into poetry’s black box: the book. It reduces the poetic imagination to exploited labour and, equally, elevates artificial intelligence to the status of the poetic. In doing so, it explores the all-too-real changes that are reforming every kind of work, each day more quickly, under the surface of life.
  • Coach House Books; May 2016
  • ISBN 9781770564909
  • Read online
  • Title: Of the Subcontract
  • Author: Nick Thurston; McKenzie Wark (other); Darren Wershler-Henry (other)
  • Imprint: Coach House Books
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 177056490X
  • 9781770564909

In The Press


'The first "computers" were people, hired to do the tedious work of creating accounting systems and tax roles for the administration of newly created bureaucratic structures in post-Revolutionary France. Of the Subcontract presents the poems of their descendants. While this imaginative project extends a line of conceptualist practice that shows us how forms of aesthetic expression take root in the broader culture and what the continuum of amateur and professional work is, it also shows us how poetic acts, like other modes of production, conceal the contradictions and inequities of labour and value in a global world.'
Johanna Drucker, artist, author and Bernard Breslauer Professor of Bibliography, UCLA

'In an expanded field of writing Nick Thurston is changing the literary landscape. Unlike Francis Alÿs’ workers, who were moving mountains in the desert by shoveling sand, Thurston’s underpaid writers are moving (one spadeful at a time) Robert Smithson’s heap of language from one place to another, leaving us with language to be looked at / things to be read.'
Kenneth Goldsmith, poet and founding editor of Ubu Web


About The Author

Nick Thurston: Nick Thurston's writings have been translated into Spanish, Italian, French, and German, and his art works are held in public and private collections internationally. He has exhibited across Europe and North America and written critically about art and poetics.

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 177056490X
  • 9781770564909