Photo Noise (2004)

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, ...

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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 Noise...as 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 random.org 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.

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