Recursive Google Image Search, Starting with a Transparent Image
Sebastian Schmieg found a novel way to use Google’s Image Search: he started with a transparent .png file, asked Google to return similar images, and kept feeding the top result back into Google for another search. For those who don’t work with image files every day, a transparent .png file is comparable to a pane of glass. It is nothing more than a square of transparency… which makes the search results all the more fascinating.
I love this project, and it’s absolutely mesmerizing to watch the images unfold. This video tickles me for a variety of reasons – first off, there’s the repetition and variation, a theme I love oh so much.
But there’s also moments where the images tend to cluster: where it’s like Google has gotten fixated on a particular object or theme, and just cranks out permutations of the same thing over and over. And then suddenly it shifts and jumps to something else. In those moments, it makes me think of Google like a person: obsessing over one detail, and then suddenly turning into a hyperactive, spastic teenage boy… unable to concentrate on one thing for very long. It’s a bit like watching Google think, as you get a glimpse of its decision-making process.
I also love how this video proves to me that we humans are, at our core, storytellers and lovers of story. Watching these image sequences, I can’t help myself – my brain automatically tries to create some kind of narrative that explains why one image follows another. My human brain can’t help but make up a story to explain what this computer brain is showing me.
3 Years 3 Minutes