Art and the Internet Search Engine

 

Web Search Engines

Wikipedia:

“A web search engine is a software system that is designed to search for information on the World Wide Web. The search results are generally presented in a line of results often referred to as search engine results pages (SERPs). The information may be a mix of web pages, images, and other types of files. Some search engines also mine data available in databases or open directories. Unlike web directories, which are maintained only by human editors, search engines also maintain real-time information by running an algorithm on a web crawler.”

Art and Search Technologies:

I recently read a paper written by Colin Johnson and published by Routledge, the paper outlines a number of artistic projects that have made use of search technologies and explores the avenues that open up through an engagement with such tools. In the paper, Johnson highlights that through the use of search technologies there is a capacity for search results to be presented in new contexts – provoking an action, or in order to generate a mass of materials. He also discusses the idea of a ‘collective readymade‘ in which, unlike in the Duchampian sense of the word readymade – relating it to found objects, the internet offers itself as a readymade space created (and continuously being created) by a large network of independent contributor’s that unwillingly and without much control become collaborators. Through a process of collecting and appropriation, the artist is able to use this information, undermining or ignoring the objectives and intended purposes of the original author in order to redirect it towards a new context.

My Practice

In my own practice I am interested in creating work that draws on this archived material, bringing together a number of ‘unwilling participants’ through the use of popular search engines. I engage with these search engines through isolated fragments of song lyrics, collecting material from the immediate results relating to those text fragments. By collaging this found material together I am looking to draw attention to the fractured narratives that are generated through search engines, and how such a fracturing has affected the way we relate to information.

 

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