BEACON

Posted by Jon & Alison Thomson & Craighead | Wed Jan 5th 2005 2:40 a.m.

BEACON. A new on-line artwork by Thomson & Craighead, 2005.

At 00.00hrs on January 1st 2005 an automated beacon began broadcasting
on the web at:

http://www.automatedbeacon.net

The beacon continuously relays selected live web searches as they are
being made around the world, presenting them back in series and at
regular intervals.

The beacon has been instigated to act as a silent witness: a feedback
loop providing a global snapshot of ourselves to ourselves in
real-time. As resources become available,
  • Michael Szpakowski | Wed Jan 5th 2005 3:44 a.m.
    I thought I'd hate this, but I love it - what poetry!
    michael

    --- Jon Thomson <j.thomson@ucl.ac.uk> wrote:

    > BEACON. A new on-line artwork by Thomson &
    > Craighead, 2005.
    >
    > At 00.00hrs on January 1st 2005 an automated beacon
    > began broadcasting
    > on the web at:
    >
    > http://www.automatedbeacon.net
    >
    > The beacon continuously relays selected live web
    > searches as they are
    > being made around the world, presenting them back in
    > series and at
    > regular intervals.
    >
    > The beacon has been instigated to act as a silent
    > witness: a feedback
    > loop providing a global snapshot of ourselves to
    > ourselves in
    > real-time. As resources become available,
  • alex galloway | Wed Jan 5th 2005 9:14 a.m.
    There have been many projects that use real-time displays of random
    search strings, here are some:

    http://www.metaspy.com/
    http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html
    http://www.wordtracker.com
    http://sp.ask.com/docs/about/jeevesiq.html
    http://50.lycos.com/
    http://buzz.yahoo.com/
    http://search.store.yahoo.com/OT?

    How does Beacon differ from these other sites? more specifically, what
    makes it an artwork?

    On Jan 5, 2005, at 4:39 AM, Jon Thomson wrote:

    > BEACON. A new on-line artwork by Thomson & Craighead, 2005.
    >
    > At 00.00hrs on January 1st 2005 an automated beacon began broadcasting
    > on the web at:
    >
    > http://www.automatedbeacon.net
    >
    > The beacon continuously relays selected live web searches as they are
    > being made around the world, presenting them back in series and at
    > regular intervals.
    >
    > The beacon has been instigated to act as a silent witness: a feedback
    > loop providing a global snapshot of ourselves to ourselves in
    > real-time. As resources become available,
  • MTAA | Wed Jan 5th 2005 9:43 a.m.
    Hi all,

    An oldie but a goodie that seems relevant:

    http://www.mteww.com/mtaaRR/news/twhid/google\_netartmasterpiece.html

    submitted in the spirit of discussion.

    On Jan 5, 2005, at 11:14 AM, Alexander Galloway wrote:

    > There have been many projects that use real-time displays of random
    > search strings, here are some:
    >
    > http://www.metaspy.com/
    > http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html
    > http://www.wordtracker.com
    > http://sp.ask.com/docs/about/jeevesiq.html
    > http://50.lycos.com/
    > http://buzz.yahoo.com/
    > http://search.store.yahoo.com/OT?
    >
    > How does Beacon differ from these other sites? more specifically, what
    > makes it an artwork?
    >
    > On Jan 5, 2005, at 4:39 AM, Jon Thomson wrote:
    >
    >> BEACON. A new on-line artwork by Thomson & Craighead, 2005.
    >>
    >> At 00.00hrs on January 1st 2005 an automated beacon began
    >> broadcasting on the web at:
    >>
    >> http://www.automatedbeacon.net
    >>
    >> The beacon continuously relays selected live web searches as they are
    >> being made around the world, presenting them back in series and at
    >> regular intervals.
    >>
    >> The beacon has been instigated to act as a silent witness: a feedback
    >> loop providing a global snapshot of ourselves to ourselves in
    >> real-time. As resources become available,
  • Michael Szpakowski | Wed Jan 5th 2005 11:47 a.m.
    Curious to find myself defending, if this is the right
    term, a piece like this, which ordinarily would not be
    at all to my taste .
    It's the massively concentrated *calling attention to*
    the linguistic content of the search strings which are
    here denuded of their original context - assisted by
    the rather splendidly austere design of the page-
    which does it for me.
    The outcome is genuinely poetic and moving , it seems
    to me, and thank god, irreducible to an artist
    statement or simple explanation - its something to do
    with zeitgeist, yes; also something to do with an
    enormous sense of multitude but also something to do
    with a linguistic pleasure akin to me to that I derive
    from the work of Alan Sondheim, for example.
    And that pleasure isn't simply ,abstractly, linguistic
    but also refers very directly to the world out there
    in a sort of updated automatic writing -but rather
    than the outpourings of a single unconscious, we have
    access to almost literally a *collective* unconcious.

    On the whole I'm bored rigid by *good-ideaism*, by the
    artistic one liner, which has struck me as a
    particularly lazy form of aspiring to art ( I hated,
    for example, Data Diaries) - but there's no point
    arguing when something hits you in the viscera.
    I'm also generally rather more predisposed in favour
    of stuff involving perhaps a little more craft (
    although there's clearly real care and thought here
    -reminds me of MTAA in that respect) -but sometimes,
    as we all know, it just happens. It does here.
    michael

    --- Alexander Galloway <galloway@nyu.edu> wrote:

    > There have been many projects that use real-time
    > displays of random
    > search strings, here are some:
    >
    > http://www.metaspy.com/
    > http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html
    > http://www.wordtracker.com
    > http://sp.ask.com/docs/about/jeevesiq.html
    > http://50.lycos.com/
    > http://buzz.yahoo.com/
    > http://search.store.yahoo.com/OT?
    >
    > How does Beacon differ from these other sites? more
    > specifically, what
    > makes it an artwork?
    >
    > On Jan 5, 2005, at 4:39 AM, Jon Thomson wrote:
    >
    > > BEACON. A new on-line artwork by Thomson &
    > Craighead, 2005.
    > >
    > > At 00.00hrs on January 1st 2005 an automated
    > beacon began broadcasting
    > > on the web at:
    > >
    > > http://www.automatedbeacon.net
    > >
    > > The beacon continuously relays selected live web
    > searches as they are
    > > being made around the world, presenting them back
    > in series and at
    > > regular intervals.
    > >
    > > The beacon has been instigated to act as a silent
    > witness: a feedback
    > > loop providing a global snapshot of ourselves to
    > ourselves in
    > > real-time. As resources become available,
    >
  • Michael Szpakowski | Wed Jan 5th 2005 2:25 p.m.
    <An oldie but a goodie that seems relevant:
    http://www.mteww.com/mtaaRR/news/twhid/google_netartmasterpiece.html
    submitted in the spirit of discussion.>

    Indeed. This is very interesting -I'd read it on the
    list & forgotten I had. SO the T&C piece is clearly
    even more zetigeisty than it felt.
    The bottom line seems to me though, "artistic
    intention", which I would maintain is a necessary, but
    not sufficient, condition for art. Not that I don't
    think the Google display (or the things on Alex
    Galloway's list) couldn't be an object of *aesthetic*
    contemplation & pleasure, as indeed can the sunset or
    thick grey clouds over the Derbyshire moors on a
    winter's afternoon, without involving human artistic
    intervention. But art ( as opposed to simply an
    aesthetic sense) is a *human_activity* or it's
    nothing, even if this activity is simply a "framing"
    or conceptualisation - of course then we can argue
    about the value of each specific piece.
    ( of course one could argue that the act of
    contemplation of nature or Google is similar to the
    above last.. I think this is pushing it a bit however
    then I think of snow viewing ceremonies &c and the
    line does seem very blurred.. maybe we just have to
    have a kind of Wittgensteinian approach to the thing..
    and the dynamic nature of human history and thought
    means inevitably perhaps that *static* definitions are
    doomed or at least partial, hence the importance of
    this sort of discussion..)
    I *do* like this Beacon piece more each time I look at
    it - and Thomson and Craighead get points for plucking
    the idea from the zeitgeist and realizing it, I think.
    michael

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  • curt cloninger | Wed Jan 5th 2005 6:39 p.m.
    As long as we're on the subject,

    Why is this art:
    http://www.nomemory.org/search/
    but not this?:
    http://google.com

    Perhaps a more pertinent question -- is it good/interesting art?

    Taking an already existing commercial technology, baldfacedly replicating its exact functionality, and then merely couching it in conceptual para-art text, that seems very 1996. One could argue that by *not* modifying the commercial functionality at all, the artist is focusing on the ordinary and foregrounding implicit and profound aspects that may have initially been overlooked. Perhaps in some instances. But honestly, who hasn't done a google search of their own name and mulled over the implications? Jodi.org was answering interview questions with links to google searches of "aaaaaaaaaaaa" back in 199x. Who hasn't already visited metaspy.com and immediately grasped the noospherical implications?

    For my "search engine art" money, I prefer projects that start with live search feeds but are much more provocatively implemented -- the conecpt is integrated into the functionality of the remix; it's not just some conceptual text tacked on.
    cf: http://deepyoung.org/current/parse/
    (particularly gogolchat and prototype #38)

    [In all fairness, the FM local broadcast aspect of the "beacon" project does reconfigure the tech enough to be interesting to me. But as T. Whid pointed out, the public display aspect has already been done, by Google themselves in the recepetion area of their own corporate offices.]

    As long as we're on the subject of "search engine art," check google's beta "suggest" function here:
    http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=1
    (details here: http://labs.google.com/suggest/faq.html )

    That thing is cool in and of itself already. But it's a commercial product and not "art," so it's still fair game for some wiley net artist to put a new html interface on it and then write some artist statement lamenting how contemporary mindspace is more focused on "SHArper image" than "SHAkespeare." Personally, I'd rather just read an insightful essay on the matter.

    _

    alex galloway wrote:

    > There have been many projects that use real-time displays of random
    > search strings, here are some:
    >
    > http://www.metaspy.com/
    > http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html
    > http://www.wordtracker.com
    > http://sp.ask.com/docs/about/jeevesiq.html
    > http://50.lycos.com/
    > http://buzz.yahoo.com/
    > http://search.store.yahoo.com/OT?
    >
    > How does Beacon differ from these other sites? more specifically,
    > what
    > makes it an artwork?
    >
    > On Jan 5, 2005, at 4:39 AM, Jon Thomson wrote:
    >
    > > BEACON. A new on-line artwork by Thomson & Craighead, 2005.
    > >
    > > At 00.00hrs on January 1st 2005 an automated beacon began
    > broadcasting
    > > on the web at:
    > >
    > > http://www.automatedbeacon.net
    > >
    > > The beacon continuously relays selected live web searches as they
    > are
    > > being made around the world, presenting them back in series and at
    > > regular intervals.
    > >
    > > The beacon has been instigated to act as a silent witness: a
    > feedback
    > > loop providing a global snapshot of ourselves to ourselves in
    > > real-time. As resources become available, �Beacon� will also begin
    > > broadcasting an audio version of this signal across the web and as
    > a
    > > series of short wave radio broadcasts and FM local area broadcasts
    > > �time and places to be confirmed. A physical display system is
    > also
    > > being developed for installation in public spaces, galleries
    > > &c.�Please make any enquiries to:
    > >
    > > info@automatedbeacon.net
    > >
    > > best wishes,
    > > Jon & Alison
  • ryan griffis | Wed Jan 5th 2005 7:31 p.m.
    > [In all fairness, the FM local broadcast aspect of the "beacon"
    > project does reconfigure the tech enough to be interesting to me. But
    > as T. Whid pointed out, the public display aspect has already been
    > done, by Google themselves in the recepetion area of their own
    > corporate offices.]

    agree on curt's perspective comments relating to "search art". Natalie
    Jeremijenko did a project for the Xerox PARC residency (i think it was
    her at XP anyway) that used real time stock quotes to control the flow
    of water in a fountain, or something like that. What JS Brown called
    "using peripheral vision" in his futurist-corporate speak.
    http://cat.nyu.edu/natalie/projectdatabase/
  • M. River | Thu Jan 6th 2005 6:52 a.m.
    > On Jan 5, 2005, at 11:14 AM, P.Erl wrote:
    >
    > > There have been many projects that use real-time displays of random
    > > search strings.

    You know what would be very cool? If you made a search engine which only yields results about a child star from 80s’ American television who types his diary into a computer (early blog?) in each episode. If only someone would make a search engine like that...if only...

    ;>
  • Rob Myers | Thu Jan 6th 2005 7:07 a.m.
    On Thursday, January 06, 2005, at 01:59PM, M. River <mriver102@yahoo.com> wrote:

    >> On Jan 5, 2005, at 11:14 AM, P.Erl wrote:
    >>
    >> > There have been many projects that use real-time displays of random
    >> > search strings.
    >
    >You know what would be very cool? If you made a search engine which only yields results about a child star from 80s??? American television who types his diary into a computer (early blog?) in each episode. If only someone would make a search engine like that...if only...

    Which show was that?

    Hmmm. A history of computer diarists would illuminate the current debate around blogging. Does Ada lovelace count, or do you have to have written your diary on a computer rather than about a computer in your diary?

    What you *really* want is a meta-search engine that only searches art project search engines.

    Or failing that, payment from Google for all the cultural assimilation these projects do for them. ;-)

    - Rob.
  • Rob Myers | Thu Jan 6th 2005 7:07 a.m.
    On Thursday, January 06, 2005, at 01:59PM, M. River <mriver102@yahoo.com> wrote:

    >> On Jan 5, 2005, at 11:14 AM, P.Erl wrote:
    >>
    >> > There have been many projects that use real-time displays of random
    >> > search strings.
    >
    >You know what would be very cool? If you made a search engine which only yields results about a child star from 80s??? American television who types his diary into a computer (early blog?) in each episode. If only someone would make a search engine like that...if only...

    Which show was that?

    Hmmm. A history of computer diarists would illuminate the current debate around blogging. Does Ada lovelace count, or do you have to have written your diary on a computer rather than about a computer in your diary?

    What you *really* want is a meta-search engine that only searches art project search engines.

    Or failing that, payment from Google for all the cultural assimilation these projects do for them. ;-)

    - Rob.
  • alex galloway | Thu Jan 6th 2005 10:20 a.m.
    interesting reply from jon thomson below (forwarded to raw on his
    request)....

    > From: Jon Thomson <j.thomson@ucl.ac.uk>
    >
    [...]
    >
    > Some of the things mentioned here by Michael were in our minds when
    > conceiving this work, particularly our desire to contextualise the
    > search criteria poetically and also to examine the poetic nature of
    > the terms themselves -as a kind of real-time lament or echo actually.
    >
    > And as alex says it's part of a whole host of stuff artists have been
    > doing with search engine data -us also in previous work of our own.
    > As artists we're not particularly interested in technical novelty, nor
    > do we see it as off-limits to further explore the nature of this kind
    > of data just because others have already made things that use search
    > engine data flow.
    >
    > In more than a few cases, Contemporary Art can suffer from
    > novelty-lust. Maybe it's some hangover from the Avant Garde? Anyway,
    > we would like to think that we are simply contributing to a
    > conversation that's ongoing in this nook of the Contemporary Art
    > canon. Just as Philosophy seems to extend and extend one long
    > conversation, we see contemporary art functioning in the same kind of
    > way. We don't see art works taken individually as necessarily
    > insular, and in the case of our own art much of it is in dialogue with
    > Art History at some level, while configuration is of paramount
    > importance to us.
    >
    > In our minds, 'Beacon' is both landscape and portrait, and it's the
    > kind of convergent simultaneous nature of the gesture that interests
    > us.
    >
    > best wishes,
    >
    > Jon & Alison
    >
    > -->u/s/
    > Thomson & Craighead
    > http://www.thomson-craighead.net /
    >
    > --> w/e/b
    > BEACON is now live: http://www.automatedbeacon.net
    >
    > TWO NEW TITLES @: http://www.templatecinema.com:
    > 'A short film about Nothing' & 'FIve Ghosts floating unawares'
    >
    > --> e/x/h/i/b/i/t/i/o/n/s
    > Currently & until Nov 2005: Algorithmic Revolution, ZKM, Karlsruhe,
    > Germany
    > Currently: Database Imaginary, Walter Philips Gallery, Banff, Canada
    > Currently: Pass the Time of Day, Gasworks, London
    > Currently: The 3rd Centre of Attention Art Prize, London.
    > Currently: dreaming of a white... Arts and Business, London
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >> Curious to find myself defending, if this is the right
    >> term, a piece like this, which ordinarily would not be
    >> at all to my taste .
    >> It's the massively concentrated *calling attention to*
    >> the linguistic content of the search strings which are
    >> here denuded of their original context - assisted by
    >> the rather splendidly austere design of the page-
    >> which does it for me.
    >> The outcome is genuinely poetic and moving , it seems
    >> to me, and thank god, irreducible to an artist
    >> statement or simple explanation - its something to do
    >> with zeitgeist, yes; also something to do with an
    >> enormous sense of multitude but also something to do
    >> with a linguistic pleasure akin to me to that I derive
    >> from the work of Alan Sondheim, for example.
    >> And that pleasure isn't simply ,abstractly, linguistic
    >> but also refers very directly to the world out there
    >> in a sort of updated automatic writing -but rather
    >> than the outpourings of a single unconscious, we have
    >> access to almost literally a *collective* unconcious.
    >>
    >> On the whole I'm bored rigid by *good-ideaism*, by the
    >> artistic one liner, which has struck me as a
    >> particularly lazy form of aspiring to art ( I hated,
    >> for example, Data Diaries) - but there's no point
    >> arguing when something hits you in the viscera.
    >> I'm also generally rather more predisposed in favour
    >> of stuff involving perhaps a little more craft (
    >> although there's clearly real care and thought here
    >> -reminds me of MTAA in that respect) -but sometimes,
    >> as we all know, it just happens. It does here.
    >> michael
    >>
    >> --- Alexander Galloway <galloway@nyu.edu> wrote:
    >>
    >>> There have been many projects that use real-time
    >>> displays of random
    >>> search strings, here are some:
    >>>
    >>> http://www.metaspy.com/
    >>> http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html
    >>> http://www.wordtracker.com
    >>> http://sp.ask.com/docs/about/jeevesiq.html
    >>> http://50.lycos.com/
    >>> http://buzz.yahoo.com/
    >>> http://search.store.yahoo.com/OT?
    >>>
    >>> How does Beacon differ from these other sites? more
    >>> specifically, what
    >>> makes it an artwork?
    >>>
    >>> On Jan 5, 2005, at 4:39 AM, Jon Thomson wrote:
    >>>
    >>>> BEACON. A new on-line artwork by Thomson &
    >>> Craighead, 2005.
    >>>>
    >>>> At 00.00hrs on January 1st 2005 an automated
    >>> beacon began broadcasting
    >>>> on the web at:
    >>>>
    >>>> http://www.automatedbeacon.net
    >>>>
    >>>> The beacon continuously relays selected live web
    >>> searches as they are
    >>>> being made around the world, presenting them back
    >>> in series and at
    >>>> regular intervals.
    >>>>
    >>>> The beacon has been instigated to act as a silent
    >>> witness: a feedback
    >>>> loop providing a global snapshot of ourselves to
    >>> ourselves in
    >>>> real-time. As resources become available,
    >>>
  • Mayson Lancaster | Fri Jan 7th 2005 1:40 a.m.
    and google gave the following sponsored links in relation to curt's posting:
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    On Wed, 5 Jan 2005 17:39:32 -0800, curt cloninger <curt@lab404.com> wrote:
    > As long as we're on the subject,
    >
    > Why is this art:
    > http://www.nomemory.org/search/
    > but not this?:
    > http://google.com
    >
    > Perhaps a more pertinent question -- is it good/interesting art?
    >
    > Taking an already existing commercial technology, baldfacedly replicating its exact functionality, and then merely couching it in conceptual para-art text, that seems very 1996. One could argue that by *not* modifying the commercial functionality at all, the artist is focusing on the ordinary and foregrounding implicit and profound aspects that may have initially been overlooked. Perhaps in some instances. But honestly, who hasn't done a google search of their own name and mulled over the implications? Jodi.org was answering interview questions with links to google searches of "aaaaaaaaaaaa" back in 199x. Who hasn't already visited metaspy.com and immediately grasped the noospherical implications?
    >
    > For my "search engine art" money, I prefer projects that start with live search feeds but are much more provocatively implemented -- the conecpt is integrated into the functionality of the remix; it's not just some conceptual text tacked on.
    > cf: http://deepyoung.org/current/parse/
    > (particularly gogolchat and prototype #38)
    >
    > [In all fairness, the FM local broadcast aspect of the "beacon" project does reconfigure the tech enough to be interesting to me. But as T. Whid pointed out, the public display aspect has already been done, by Google themselves in the recepetion area of their own corporate offices.]
    >
    > As long as we're on the subject of "search engine art," check google's beta "suggest" function here:
    > http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=1
    > (details here: http://labs.google.com/suggest/faq.html )
    >
    > That thing is cool in and of itself already. But it's a commercial product and not "art," so it's still fair game for some wiley net artist to put a new html interface on it and then write some artist statement lamenting how contemporary mindspace is more focused on "SHArper image" than "SHAkespeare." Personally, I'd rather just read an insightful essay on the matter.
    >
    > _
    >
    > alex galloway wrote:
    >
    > > There have been many projects that use real-time displays of random
    > > search strings, here are some:
    > >
    > > http://www.metaspy.com/
    > > http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html
    > > http://www.wordtracker.com
    > > http://sp.ask.com/docs/about/jeevesiq.html
    > > http://50.lycos.com/
    > > http://buzz.yahoo.com/
    > > http://search.store.yahoo.com/OT?
    > >
    > > How does Beacon differ from these other sites? more specifically,
    > > what
    > > makes it an artwork?
    > >
    > > On Jan 5, 2005, at 4:39 AM, Jon Thomson wrote:
    > >
    > > > BEACON. A new on-line artwork by Thomson & Craighead, 2005.
    > > >
    > > > At 00.00hrs on January 1st 2005 an automated beacon began
    > > broadcasting
    > > > on the web at:
    > > >
    > > > http://www.automatedbeacon.net
    > > >
    > > > The beacon continuously relays selected live web searches as they
    > > are
    > > > being made around the world, presenting them back in series and at
    > > > regular intervals.
    > > >
    > > > The beacon has been instigated to act as a silent witness: a
    > > feedback
    > > > loop providing a global snapshot of ourselves to ourselves in
    > > > real-time. As resources become available, �Beacon� will also begin
    > > > broadcasting an audio version of this signal across the web and as
    > > a
    > > > series of short wave radio broadcasts and FM local area broadcasts
    > > > �time and places to be confirmed. A physical display system is
    > > also
    > > > being developed for installation in public spaces, galleries
    > > > &c.�Please make any enquiries to:
    > > >
    > > > info@automatedbeacon.net
    > > >
    > > > best wishes,
    > > > Jon & Alison
    > +
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