Silvio Lorusso & Sebastian Schmieg
5 Years of Captured Captchas
Have you ever wondered what fraction of your life has been spent on solving such trivial things as CAPTCHAs, sequences of weirdly-shaped letters and digits on the screen? All you need to do is copy them, click, and that’s it. Takes 10 seconds on average. No time at all. And yet Silvio Lorusso and Sebastian Schmieg documented each CAPTCHA they had to decipher for 5 years. The total turned out to be 471. It means that just copying sequences of letters and digits took them 13 hours out of the five years of their lives. The artists materialized this atomized, and thus normally overlooked effort in five leporello-format books. When unfolded, all the CAPTCHAs they solved form a 90-metre-long path! Your fingers have probably typed a similar distance. And for free at that, in the name of cyber safety, or even contributing to culture and technology, but in fact at the service of Google and other web corporations. You deserve a medal for voluntary work, a CV entry or at least gratitude, but on the other hand your fingers are only imperfect extensions of software, a possibility used in the absence of better solutions.