Friday, November 24, 2006

The art of the now

Although I'm of course very busy with exploring Sydney and having a great time, I came across an interesting item tonight on Bright.nl, about a project called Google: Art - a collaboration by 5 French artists. Their project consisted of a wallpaper which was made out of the results which were provided by Google when you search for the word "art" on Google.

What a splendid idea!

It has been Google which reshaped our ways of approaching the internet completely. When somewhere in the mid-90's the internet-bangs, -booms and -bubbles came, banged and burst, Google survived and was our beacon of hope in desperate times. Millions and millions of search inquiries are made to it everyday We have come to rely on Google to give us the answers we seek, to provide us with the knowledge we need - and maybe even to give us the 'truth' about the things around us. Consider for instance that we don't even say we search anymore, no, we "google". "Googlen" has even become an official verb in the Dutch language as well - that has to say something about the esteem with which we address Google.

As you all know Google's way of searching the answers to our questions, relies for a large part on 'linking': if a certain web page is being linked to a lot of times from other webpages, it will probably host credible information - why else would people link to it? This Darwinian logic of the most linked to, is the most credible, made obscure however if this credible information is at the same time valid. Google doesn't edit, moderate or guard the validity of the information it provides, it merely provides it. As a result, we have to become our own judges of what is valid and what isn't. We are shaping our own truths with whatever information Google provides us. The web has become too vast to be navigated and filtered without services like Google. That's why Google has become our oracle - and it speaks with the collective voice of everything and everyone that's on the web. Credibility has become validity - truth.

So of course it makes perfect sense to ask the Oracle of Silicon Valley to give us the answer to that one question which has eluded us for centuries: what is art?

In 0.08 seconds Google provided the answer, consisting of 6.960.400 hits. The artists converted all the pages into rolls of wallpaper and pasted this wallpaper on the walls of an exhibition space for the audience to explore.


I don't know if it will be on display in the Netherlands somewhere soon (probably not in Oz) but this picture already looks pretty thought provoking!

But you know what the greatest thing is? At each moment in time, we can get the answer to the question "what is art?" for ourselves. Just look at the results from Google yourself! But each time you search for it, I guarantee you that the answer will have changed, vastly or slightly. Because like the internet, art is fluid and undefined; it will shift and shape itself perpetually and Google will tell us where it's heading.

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