You are here

Exhibition Opening: James Coupe - Exercises in Passivity

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 5:00pm
Image: James Coupe. Still from Time-Clock, 2019.
Image: James Coupe. Still from Time-Clock, 2019.

Exhibition dates: Thursday, August 1 – Saturday, August 24, 2019  

Opening reception: Wednesday, July 31, 5–8pm 

"I'm not a robot." Check. Now click on all the boxes with traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, or shop fronts to prove it, while your answers help train an algorithm for a self-driving car. Unlike the Turing Test, which asks computers to convince us they are human, today, humans are perpetually asked to convince computers that they are not robots. The specter of full automation has finally arrived. In 2013, Amazon patented a design for a mobile "worker cage" that would protect warehouse employees from hazardous encounters with their robot colleagues. Five years later, they disabled the "laugh" command for Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant, after a series of troubling incidents. Meanwhile, over six million songs currently posted by users on Spotify have never been played by a human listener, and half a million people perform "Human Intelligence Tasks" on Amazon's Mechanical Turk crowdworker platform. What remains for us — and who does "us" include? Exercises in Passivity is an exhibition of new work by James Coupe that asks what makes us human in a post-AI society by examining the impact of automation on labor, affect, empathy, and instrumentalization. 



This work was made possible by the support of the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS), University of Washington. This exhibition is supported in part by the 4Culture Tech Specific Program, by the Bergstrom Award for Art and Science, and the UW E-Science Institute. With special thanks to Eamon McQuaide. 

To request disability accommodation, contact the UW Disability Services Office at 206-543-6450 (voice), 206-543-6452 (TTY), 206-685-7264 (fax), or, preferably at least 10 days in advance of the event. 


Emily Zimmerman, Director, Jacob Lawrence Gallery, 
Merith Bennett, Constituency Relations Officer, 
Jeanette Mills, Web Information Specialist, 

The Jacob Lawrence Gallery is part of the UW School of Art + Art History + Design and is located in room 132 of the Art Building

Support the Gallery

Your donation helps the Gallery continue and expand its work. Any amount is welcome, and a generous donor will match your gift. Donate now through the UW Foundation

People Involved: