Photo Noise

From Rhizome Artbase
Steven Read

This software democratically curates an endless art show of found
digital photographs. Using an algorithm that prioritizes both a
consistency of form and a variation of content, it generates a pulse of
the world. The algorithm uses the popular google-api to search in
real-time for photos of various camera types: sony, canon, kodak, casio,
nokia cell phones, etc. While a few other artworks and websites use
similar search engine technologies and algorithms to locate random
images, Photo Noise is unique for its non-interactive simplicity and
passivity. Referring back to traditional experiences of media and art
viewing (television, radio, gallery walls and floors) it attempts to
bridge the gap between passive experience and a cumbersome network
containing billions of pages and images. Typical access to this
information requires one to do various activities such as to navigate,
search, find, choose, look, think, possibly go back, close a window,
click again, search, change options, type again, click, choose, close,
click, search, open, and view and click. It has even been theorized that
the amount of mental effort to locate and filter such information,
sometimes outweighs the benefits of the findings. Photo Noise invites
you to sit back and relax as the photographs made by the people in your
world come and go.
More about the software used in Photo it might appear to be
nothing more than a simple one-page internet script. It favors the
traditional design principle of encapsulation, to ensure a lazy, almost
boring experience for users at any level. This may differ from many
other current forms of software art, where the code or the engine are
visually or conceptually very present in the work. But here, the
software is designed so that it looks like there is no software. In
actuality, this program is responsible for many things such as: finding
'good' numbers from the api; uptime and reliability;
balancing camera default filename schemes with google search result
probabilities; carefully managing the usage of limited and precious
google api queries; hacking the bitter reality that the google-api
doesn't even allow for the 'image search' function; dealing with slow
result servers; useless thumbnails; filtering and maintaining a fifo
queue of findings; client navigation of queue; caching; image scaling;
and so forth. This is not to say the software and algorithms are
perfected or even terribly complex, but they do indeed exist! To
encapsulate the software within a minimal interface, for me, is somewhat
of a non-materialistic approach to the software medium. This has not
been particularly easy to do, as software is indeed a seductive and
beautiful medium.

Steven Read
10 August 2005
Variant History
outside link
open submission
10 August 2005
Steven Read