Image search, revisited

Over at I stumbled over the project Google. The work, created by Ben West and Felix Heyes, is based on taking 21000 common English words and parse them through Google image search, and then printing it all and binding it.

Quote from the website:

“Conceptually it’s whatever you make of it,” writes Ben. The sad reality of shrinking attention spans, collective media fatigue or how an expert reference book is no match for the convenience of Google, for example. “It’s really an unfiltered, uncritical record of the state of human culture in 2012,” concludes Ben. So, how are we faring? “I would estimate about half of the book is revolting medical photos, porn, racism or bad cartoons.”

[x_video_embed no_container=”true”][/x_video_embed]

[x_video_embed no_container=”true”][/x_video_embed]

The second video above is from a work I did at Valand back in 2006: The uncontested order of things: A slideshow curated by google. It’s in the same vein, although it used the letters of the alphabet to search for images. I downloaded the top 40 or so pictures of every letter, picked one at random and arranged them alphabetically in the video. The idea being pretty similar to Ben and Felix — how is our language and concept of images shaped by that which we take for granted or don’t reflect over.

In the introduction to the work I wrote:

The motivation for this process, of which the resulting slideshow is but one possible combination (let alone one possible way to present the combinations) is:
1) To see how many apparently random images we can fit into a narrative, and
2) Given the omnipresence of google, how easily received/understood/accepted the images are when
3) A qualitative analysis of the images (and search results in general) shows an (apparently) unproportional US/EU presence, which in turn should
4) Kick us in the nuts for too easily accepting the perceived “freedom of the internet”, and not reflecting enough on what our online behavior tells of ourselves, but also what actual and very manifest power we are supporting by our actions.

Which actually still holds I think. Google is as omnipresent as it’s ever been, and apart from occasionally switching to Duck Duck Go as my main search engine, I don’t actively thing about how I navigate the Internet as much as I used to, or how that shapes our collective understanding of what the world looks like.

So much misery, so much fun

This has been around on the interwubs quite a lot: America Online managed to spill three months worth of search logs from, and people were quite quick to parse the search strings for everyone’s amusement.

The fun part is that all searches are related to individual users – you can’t really tell who’s who (unless of course they use that as a search string), but individuals are linked to a user number.

There are a couple of searchable thingies that have sprung up around the aol-fappa, but by far the best one I’ve seen is this one:

Something Awful made quite a scary summery of some of the searches.

People often call me a sick and perverted bastard odd, cause I keep telling them about strange things I find online. Thing is, most of my friends don’t spend as much time online as I do, nor do they follow strange links to dark and murky corners of the internets. I don’t fear to plod along those paths, and I see it as a public service when I inform my friends about the things that I find there; if that happens to be dog-on-cat interracial bondage, can I really be blamed for it? I say not, and if you follow the link to Something Awful, you’ll be convinced that whatever I might dreg up, I’m not in the same league as some of these puppies..

The statistical confirmation of my lack of “fun”

What I do on the blog is whine, complain, act grumpy, and occasionaly poke fun at the disabled and philosophically challenged.
Build and they will come is a bible quote (although I last remember seeing it in Eight legged freaks. quite an entertaining movie, with a lot of large spiders and lack of excitement.) and judging from the search strings leading to, my flock is slowly, trickling, making their way here.